The Popular Will: Reformism, Radicalism, Republicanism & Unionism in Britain 1815-1960

Part 5, Chapter XXVIII
V, XXVII: The Breaking Point

After the tumultuous events of Bastille Day, France quickly divided into two factions: the Fédérés or Actionists, who demanded the overthrow of the Kingdom of France, consisting of decommissioned soldiers, workers, and anti-restorationists, and the Royalists, composing sections of the middle class, provincial Catholics, and rural peasants. On the one hand, Chancellor Dillon and the Royal Ministry, and on the other, Boulanger, still exiled in Elba, the CGT, the National Guard, and the various councils and committees formed locally in urban areas by soldiers and former members of the various Labour Committees.

In terms of territory, the Fédérés held cities like Marseilles, Toulouse, Montpellier, and the surrounding regions in the south, a corridor from Lyon to Dijon in the East, a smaller region around Bordeaux, after Boulangists had declared a Commune in support of the Constable upon hearing the news of the restoration, and finally a more radical group of Syndicalists, who pledged allegiance to Boulanger, around the city of Lens in the North. Paris was just about the only city to remain in Royalist hands, although having suffered a significant and bloody flight of its Boulangist population, it was a pale imitation of the bustling city it once was.

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Map illustrating the extent of Fédérés control in France in the aftermath of the declaration of the Kingdom of France. Alsace-Lorraine in black, Fédérés areas in bordered in Red.

Both sides nervously awaited the response of the only major force that had yet to declare its allegiance: the French Army within Spain and Portugal, now dislocated from the Etat Française and acting as an independent force unaffiliated with either group.

Unfortunately for the Kingdom of France, within the heart of the French Army, a tempest was brewing. A profound shift in sentiment had taken hold, spreading like wildfire among the ranks. The soldiers, weary from the toils of war and disillusioned by the inequities they witnessed, found solace in the revolutionary winds that swept across France. The mutinous whispers and rumours grew louder as the news of Boulanger’s exile spread through the ranks, their fervour echoing through the encampments like an untamed storm, shaking the very foundations of the military hierarchy. The French Army was fiercely loyal to Boulanger, and attempting to capitalise on this loyalty, Boulanger, now donning the popular title of "Généralissime of the Workers and Soldiers," issued a call to all soldiers outside of French borders to resist the restoration and return to France to overthrow the Monarchy. Many heeded the call.

As dusk settled upon the Spanish front lines, an air of restlessness permeated the ranks of the French troops. A sense of camaraderie and unity with the broader Fédérés movement pulsed through their veins, forging bonds stronger than the iron shackles of traditional command. The soldiers, once bound by duty and obedience, now felt a powerful connection to the aspirations of the people, embodied by the resolute figure of Généralissime Boulanger.

One of the best chronicles of the period was from the journalist and theorist Emile Zola, who headed to the front lines to document the war's passing. Stuck amongst the troops as the conflict broke out, he observed the soldiers deciding their actions and later formulated and collected his notes and diary entries into a genuinely fascinating insight into the Franco-Spanish War, entitled The Breaking Point:

“As I stood amidst the encampments of the French Army, a palpable tension filled the air, like a gathering storm ready to unleash its fury. The soldiers, worn and wearied by the hardships of war and disillusioned by the injustices they witnessed, grappled with a profound dilemma. Loyalty to their commanders clashed with a growing sympathy for the revolutionary winds sweeping across France.

It was July 18th when the first rumours of the restoration emerged in the company I was stationed in, somewhere near Girona. At first, many refused to admit the news was real. Portraits of the Constable were everywhere, and the Generals had taken down none. But then, suddenly, the Generals retreated to their quarters, and frenzied briefings were held. A new general order to remain at their posts and transfer more men to the front resulted in many new soldiers arriving. They confirmed the news. “He is in Elba,” one told me, “they intend to kill him. But, Sir, what will happen to the General? He is our leader. What do we do without him? Why do we fight if not to secure the leadership of the French nation?”

On July 20th, the call to attack a position on the outskirts of the town was refused by the men, who wanted news of the health and well-being of their leader before they continued their efforts. The commander of the battalion I was stationed with, a man called Preud’homme, nervously told the men, whom he had grown very attached and close to, he had no news. With a bead of sweat dripping down his brow, he attempted to insist hesitantly: “If you do not fight, you will be shot.” One of the men, Charles, responded: “Commander, if you force these men to fight without safety assurances of its leader and guide, you will be shot.”

Hushed murmurs and secret gatherings reverberated through the ranks as debates and discussions echoed in the darkness. Some questioned their commanders, the very foundation of the monarchy, while others passionately debated the merits of the Fédérés. Whispers of dissent mingled with the apprehension of potential consequences as each soldier weighed the risks and rewards of joining the burgeoning mutiny. Some argued that Action meant defeating the Spanish, but most believed that the war was lost for now, but France could be saved.

One soldier exclaimed around the campfire, “Why should we defeat foreigners who threaten our safety when so-called Frenchmen place the leader of our nation in chains?” Another interjected, “Because they killed our sons and mothers, spilt blood on the streets of Paris. The criminal regime must be overthrown!”

The following evening, the 21st, as the sun dipped below the horizon, painting the sky with hues of fiery orange and gleaming gold, a group of soldiers gathered around a modest campfire. Jean, a seasoned veteran, spoke with a gravitas earned through years of battlefield experience. His voice carried the weight of conviction as he addressed the group. "Brothers, do ya not hear the call of Boulanger? The people rise against the usurpers at home, and the winds of change sweep through our beloved homeland."

Pierre, the young recruit, frowned, his forehead creased with uncertainty. "But what of our duty, Jean? Are we not bound by honour and discipline to obey our superiors?"

Jean's eyes sparkled with an ardour that belied his age. "Aye, we are soldiers, but we're also citizens of France. Should we not stand with the people when they demand justice and equality? Our loyalty must not be confined just to blind obedience; it must encompass the very ideals that unite us all."

Marc, a burly soldier with a rough exterior and a heart of gold, chimed in with a gruff voice, "You talk of ideals, but what about the risks, Jean? If we join this rebellion, what fate awaits us?" Jean's gaze softened as he considered Marc's words. "Aye, there are risks, my friend. But there's also the chance to be part of something greater than ourselves, to shape the future of our nation. Is that not worth the peril?"

The young soldier, Antoine, leaned forward, his eyes gleaming with the sweet and naive manner befitting of a young revolutionary. "I agree with Jean. If we want to resist the usurpers, we must take risks. Our souls yearn for a fairer France, one without Lords, without masters. The people are one with Boulanger, it is the General is the man who stands with us. Let us not falter in the face of fear."

A spirited debate ensued, voices rising and arguments clashing like the crackling of the campfire. Some clung steadfastly to preserving order and tradition, while others fervently advocated for embracing the people's cause. In the warm glow of the flickering flames, the intensity of their discussions laid bare the inner turmoil and conflict each soldier grappled with.

As the night wore on, the whispers of dissent swelled, igniting the embers of rebellion. The weight of the decision to join the mutiny burdened the conscience of every soldier, each grappling with the consequences and the allure of change. Yet, amidst the darkness, a shared disillusionment and a yearning for a brighter future began to knit them together.

With each passing moment, the resolve to embrace Boulanger's cause grew stronger, binding the soldiers in an unbreakable bond. I, myself, found the exchange to be stirring. The most striking aspect of it all was the absence of officers - fearful of the response of their men, they had fled and headed to the officer's quarters early that night. The once stark division between loyalty to the State and allegiance to the people blurred, and like a fortress under siege from within, the military hierarchy started to crumble. I felt a sense that the men didn’t need their commanders, save Boulanger, any longer.

Finally, a figure emerged from the dark, lit by the warm glow of a torch. It was Preud’homme. “Men, I stand with you,” he said. “The politicians in Paris who restored the throne are nothing but sons of whores. I stand with our Boulanger. I stand with you.”

A fierce cheer erupted throughout the camp. I was whipped up in the excitement, despite my reservations about their ideology, I could not resist but help the men gather their ammunition, machine guns, and supplies and march north towards the border.

In that pivotal moment, the French Army stood on the precipice of history. The choice made, hearts aligned, we were poised to unleash a cataclysmic upheaval that would reverberate through the annals of time. As I witnessed this historic mutiny take shape, I could feel the winds of change brushing against my very soul, and I knew that we were about to become part of something far greater than ourselves.”


Eventually, nearly uniformly, the soldiers chose Boulanger. Those who did not, like Zola, were swept with camaraderie and belonging between the troops and their Généralissime. The choice between continuing a foreign conflict and supporting the revolutionary cause at home became a burden they could no longer bear. The mutiny took root, spreading like an infectious fever, eroding the soldiers' loyalty to their former commanders.

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Emile Zola, Author of 'The Breaking Point'

In the cover of darkness, whispers of defiance echoed through the encampments. A ripple of dissent coursed through the ranks, gradually building into a crescendo of rebellion. Soldiers, with faces obscured by shadows and hearts aflame with revolutionary zeal, cast aside the chains of obedience. The once unyielding military hierarchy crumbled beneath the weight of their unified defiance from officers like Preud’homme, and rank-and-file soldiers alike. As the first light of dawn brushed the horizon, the mutiny erupted in a cataclysmic display of dissent. Soldiers, once united in battle, now stood united against their former masters. Orders were met with silent stares, flags of insubordination hoisted high above the barricades. The once disciplined ranks fragmented into pockets of rebellion, each bearing the indomitable spirit of the Actionist movement.

The mutiny reverberated through the encampments, rippling across the vast expanse of the front lines. Soldiers seized their weapons and shed their uniforms, their allegiance now pledged to Boulanger and the cause he championed. Their voices, once subdued, now rose in unison, chanting revolutionary anthems that echoed through the valleys and pierced the very soul of the Spanish countryside. The mutinous tide engulfed the French Army, leaving disarray in its wake. The disintegration of the military machine was palpable, it was reduced to a mere shadow of its strength. Command structures crumbled, replaced by a spontaneous organization fueled by the unwavering determination of the mutineers. Their destination? Home. As the mutiny spread, the French forces in the FDI found themselves teetering on the edge of chaos. Waves of desertion swept through the ranks, soldiers abandoning their posts to join the swelling ranks of the mutineers. The front lines, once brimming with the might of the French military, now echoed with the hollow footsteps of a fractured army.

As the forces spread throughout the ranks, soldiers, regaled as heroes in France at this time, passed through town by town, spreading the mutiny against Boulanger to general society. Resistance was merciless: officials who didn't pledge allegiance to the Généralissime of the Workers and Soldiers were summarily shot. Along France's southern border with the FDI, settlement after settlement declared the formation of Insurrectionary Communes of the Workers and Soldiers of France.

Michel Preud'homme, the Officer from the pivotal passage of The Breaking Point, found himself elected to the coordinating committee of the Carcassone National Guard on July 26th, having marched for two days from Girona to liberate the town. Similar advances were conducted out of the initial territory held by the Fédérés, and the cities of Mâcon, Dole, St-Ettienne, Grenoble, and Amiens were captured by the rebels with little fighting. Nearly uniformly, the trajectory was the same: the local police would defect to the National Guard, a Commune and Committee would be established, and establish contact with local Fédérés. In four days, the Kingdom of France's southern border stood at Castres rather than Girona. Whatever was emerging from the Insurrectionary Communes, Labour Committees, and Fédéré-held territory was gaining ground.

France after the collapse of the French Army in Spain, early August 1892:
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Part 5, Chapter XXIX
V, XXIX: The End of the Franco-Iberian War

The summer of 1892 was a defining period for Europe, especially for Iberia and France. From the early mutinies in the French army to the eventual rise of the FDI in Spain and then the Iberian Peninsular, this was a time of political upheaval and shifting alliances. The FDI, sensing the vulnerability of the weakened French to the north, seized the opportunity to exploit the internal divisions within the French ranks and launched an offensive on July 28th, 1892.

Like predators closing in on wounded prey, they launched relentless offensives, their advance fueled by the disarray and disorganization of their French counterparts. The mutineers, burdened by the weight of their own rebellion, struggled to mount an effective defence against the resurgent onslaught.

With each passing day, the expulsion of French forces from the FDI became inevitable. The momentum of the FDI, buoyed by their successes and emboldened by their adversaries' weaknesses, grew stronger with every strategic manoeuvre. They pressed forward, seizing control of once-held French positions and eroding the remnants of the French military presence in Iberia within fifteen days.

The mutiny and subsequent expulsion marked a watershed moment in the conflict, forever altering its course. It was a seismic shift that reverberated through history, leaving an indelible mark on the trajectory of the Actionist movement and the fate of the French Army. They left but believed they would return as soon as France was saved. The bonds forged in rebellion would guide their next steps as they navigated a tumultuous landscape where loyalty and defiance intertwined. The mutiny had set in motion a chain of events that would shape the destiny of nations and test the resolve of the Actionist movement to its very core.

Sensing the vulnerability of their weakened adversary, the FDI’s main armed forces, the Volunteers of the Federation, acted like predators closing in on wounded prey. The internal divisions within the French ranks, exacerbated by mutineers within the French Army, presented a golden opportunity to finally rid the peninsular of all the occupiers.

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Zorrilla, a senior figure in the FDI's Government

The FDI launched relentless offensive manoeuvres, fueled by the disarray and disorganization of their French counterparts, who were burdened by the weight of their own rebellion and struggled to mount an effective defence. Each passing day made the expulsion of French forces from the FDI an increasingly inevitable reality. The conflict reached a watershed as the FDI pressed forward, seizing control of once-held French positions and eroding the remnants of the French military presence in Iberia. The mutiny and subsequent expulsion forever altered its course. This seismic shift would change the course of the war and indelibly mark the trajectory of the Actionist movement and the fate of the French Army.

In the newly christened Kingdom of France, King Louis Philippe was a monarch under siege. He appointed General Raoul de Boisdeffre, a stern and experienced leader, to helm the defence against the revolutionaries. Boisdeffre faced an unenviable task. With arsenals ransacked by Actionists and the National Guard throughout Paris, he struggled to restore order amidst the chaos. The King, meanwhile, sought refuge in Versailles but found the palace a shadow of its former glory—ruined and ransacked by Boulangist rebels. Forced to sleep on the floor of the King’s chambers, he remained steadfast. "We will celebrate our victory with a Fête," he declared, "bringing together all of France in a restored people's palace." Fat chance, as it stood.

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General Raoul de Boisdeffre, tasked with saving the Kingdom of France

In Paris, the situation was dire. General Boisdeffre attempted to subdue the capital with public executions of captured National Guard commanders and forced expulsions from working-class districts. Panic spread through the city, triggering an exodus called ‘the Long March.’ Thousands fled, with only a fraction reaching the revolutionary capital of Lyon under the gruelling summer sun. Meanwhile, the Fédérés were buoyed by troops and supplies from the Northern Front of the Franco-Spanish War. France, a nation tearing itself apart, saw its capital and the countryside drawn into the fray.

Abroad, Britain and Germany watched the unfolding crisis with growing concern, yet they held back from intervening. In their eyes, France’s internal conflict could hamper its ability to wage war on its neighbours, granting them valuable respite. Information flowed more from refugees than tight-lipped diplomats, painting a picture of a nation on the brink. The question loomed large for the FDI: to accept the status quo ante bellum or to push into French territory? Senior statesman Zorilla, ever the pragmatist, urged caution. "The risk of provoking the Actionists into resuming war in the peninsula is too great," he argued before the Central Committee of the Volunteers for the Federation.

In France, the terror unleashed by anarchists mingled with the Actionists' chauvinist rhetoric, creating a volatile cocktail against the FDI. Stories of atrocities became alarmingly common. One poignant example was a Jewish baker in Toulouse, who was burned within it alongside his family after refusing to hand over his business to a Labour Committee for the workers to manage. This ignited outrage, further fanning the flames of conflict. The prominent figures of Sorel and Maurras, wielding their pen as their sword through their newspaper, found themselves unable to quell the escalating violence. The movement's leader, Generallismé Boulanger, belatedly and half-heartedly attempted to intervene, but his efforts were largely seen as too little, too late. Aware that renewed war loomed on the horizon, the FDI courted potential allies.

Italy, a member of the Accord powers and a nation growing weary of French and Spanish instability, became the Federation's focus. In a significant diplomatic coup, the FDI orchestrated daring rescues of Italians trapped in Monaco, earning them the goodwill of King Umberto I of Italy and effectively isolating France further on the European stage. They also sought to make peace with the Empire of Brazil despite the lingering resentment between the two states. The efforts would be fruitful: the FDI and the Empire of Brazil would formally sign a Memorandum of Understanding by the end of the year and establish formal diplomatic ties, including official recognition of both countries' borders and the exchange of the end of claims from the Brazilian Empire to territory in Portugal, for a formal renouncement of all colonial lands previously held by Spain and Portugal.

The repercussions of the turmoil in Europe rippled across the globe, reaching Spain's colonial territories of the Philippines and Cuba. There, the local militias, inspired by the FDI’s defiance and sensing the weakening grip of their colonial masters, rallied for independence. The United States, with its own imperial ambitions, looked on with particular interest. The “yellow journalism” phenomenon in America, with its sensationalized stories of Spanish atrocities, stirred a thirst for intervention, particularly in Cuba.

As August drew to a close, the situation remained precariously balanced. While emerging as a powerful force in Iberia, the FDI was aware of the fragile peace that was held—with internal and external enemies poised to strike. In France, King Louis Philippe and General de Boisdeffre faced a monumental task of not just holding their nation together but also confronting the spectre of the Actionists and the deep scars that the conflict had etched into French society. One thing was for sure: the FDI were able to claim a decisive victory in the Franco-Iberian War by early September.

As the dust settled on the battlefields and diplomats plotted in shadowed halls, one question lingered in the minds of leaders and common folk alike: In a Europe where alliances were as fluid as they were fragile, what would the next move be on this perilous chessboard? From the early signs of rebellion in June to the rise of the FDI by August, the summer of 1892 was a whirlwind of political and military manoeuvring.
 
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Part 5, Chapter XXX
V, XXX: The Puppetmaster's Hand

As France descended into chaos, Britain’s newly elected Parliament met for the first time on September 1st, 1892. The delay was caused by an illness debilitating President-Regent Stanley, and in the end, he was too ill to attend, so the High Chancellor A.V. Dicey opened Parliament and read the Speech at the State Opening. The Unionist Government made promises on matters of defense, education, and welfare, as agreed in at the Highbury Hall meeting and Second Unionist Congress.

In the days prior, a new Union Council was appointed that confirmed the suspicions of many: the Unionists had become, essentially, the Tories. Senator R.A Cross was confirmed as Leader of the Senate, Arthur Balfour was made War Secretary, and his brother, Gerald, was put in charge of Agriculture. St John Brodrick, a key Irish Unionist, was tasked with the Education remit, and most significantly, Senator Charles Gordon was given the crucial task of Keeper of the Seal.

7th Union Council
Prime Minister, President of the Union Council, Leader of the House of Commons - Joseph Chamberlain, Unionist
Vice President of the Union Council, Leader of the Senate - Senator R.A. Cross, Unionist
Chancellor of the Exchequer - Randolph Churchill, Unionist
Secretary of State for the Foreign Office - Senator Robert Cecil, Unionist
Secretary of State for the Home Office - Senator Henry Matthews, Unionist
Secretary of State for War - Senator Arthur Balfour, Unionist
Secretary of State for Education - St John Brodrick, Unionist
Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs - Sir Robert Herbert, Unionist
Secretary of State for State Affairs - John Henry Chamberlain, Unionist
Secretary of State for Trade - George Goschen, Unionist
Secretary of State for Agriculture - Gerald Balfour, Unionist
Keeper of the Great Seal of the Union - Senator Charles Gordon, Unionist

While many speculated what led Chamberlain to suggest such appointments to President-Regent Stanley, in reality, the changes were insisted by the real leader of the government, Senator Robert Cecil, or “Call-Me-Salisbury,” as the opposition goaded him. Cecil was the driving force behind Unionism, with Chamberlain thoroughly sidelined despite nominally holding the position of Prime Minister. Cecil’s allies were appointed to lower cabinet positions, too, further undermining Chamberlain’s authority within the cabinet. These appointments were derided by the LDP, with the opposition describing Whitehall as ‘Hotel Cecil,’ thanks to the three relatives of the Foreign Secretary in the cabinet. Senator William Morris of the SDF described Prime Minister as being operated by "The Puppetmaster's Hand," alluding to Cecil.

In the newly constituted Parliament, the British stance towards the French Civil War was a matter of utmost importance, given their prior relations with the FDI. In Germany, Chancellor Leo von Caprivi was keen to isolate and control France through a web of alliances, and therefore the German's support would be firmly with the Royalists, despite their aversion to the French in general. This desire meshed well with Britain's intention to corner France. While Cecil and the Unionist government re-evaluated Britain's stance on the French Civil War, a confidential meeting took place between Chancellor Caprivi, Senator Cecil, and Prime Minister Chamberlain. The thrust of their discussion was the rapidly evolving European landscape. With the complex web engulfing France and the rising tide of Actionism, both leaders recognised the need for a unified stance.

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Chancellor Leo von Caprivi of the German Empire

Cecil believed that if Britain was to continue supporting the FDI, it had to be prepared for potential backlash from remnants of an Actionist French regime or other European powers that might see the FDI's rise as a threat - and therefore, the British Government should do what it could to avoid an Actionist victory. Recognising that Britain was in no state to fight a continental war, echoing the findings of the Highbury Hall conflab, Cecil endorsed military reforms and build-up, believing that under the first Unionist Government, the military had been neglected.

Senator Arthur Balfour, the Secretary of State for War, was asked to reassess Britain's military readiness. The Royal Navy’s activities in the Channel intensified, with regular drills and increased patrolling. One of the main focuses of the new government would be on the armed forces, which received a huge reform in the next year led by Balfour. The Balfour Reforms, formalized under General Order 101/1892, marked a significant reorganization of the British Army. Dan Snow’s Military History of the Union of Britain summarised these reforms effectively:

“As per the order, a web of multi-battalion regiments was created across various states, with a specific structure for England, Wales, the Orange State, Scotland, and Ireland, funnelling into a state command, which in turn would funnel to a Union and Empire-wide command.

The primary change involved the Ordnance and Admiralty Committee of the Grand Council would be reconstituted into the Central Ordnance and Admiralty Command (COAC), which would coordinate global military efforts from the British Army in the Empire and beyond. This was to integrate with the plans for a join Imperial Defence Committee, which would bridge the gap between military leaders and Parliament.

In addition to this, structural reforms were conducted. Every English state, as well as Wales, the Orange State, and Scotland, had a regiment with two regular or "line" battalions and two militia battalions, while Ireland was allotted two line and three militia battalions. The historical regiments of foot and county militia regiments were renamed accordingly.

Moreover, the county rifle volunteers transitioned to being designated as volunteer battalions, with each regiment linked to its local "Regimental District" via headquarters location and territorial name. Starting in 1892, regimental numbers became informal, with battalions now known by their number within the regiment and the district name.

Notably, several units like "The Buffs," the Cameron Highlanders, and the "Black Watch" advocated to retain their unique names within their battalion titles. There were some exceptions to the standard setup: for instance, the Cameron Highlanders began with just a single regular battalion. Furthermore, the Union’s Loyal Rifle Corps and the Rifle Brigade had unique arrangements based on "rifle" traditions rather than territorial affiliations.

The reforms also encompassed significant changes to service terms and uniform designs. Enlistment periods were adjusted, with short service now extended to seven years of active duty and five years in reserve. Soldiers with time served had the option to extend their reserve service by an additional four years, classified under Section D of the First Class Army Reserve.

Uniforms underwent a standardization attempt, with different states receiving distinct colors and patterns. For instance, Regency regiments had dark blue facings, English and Welsh regiments bore white facings, Irish regiments donned green facings, and Scottish units featured yellow facings. Officers' uniforms were adorned with lace patterns representative of their regions.

However, the effort to standardize regimental insignia and abolish "tribal" distinctions faced resistance. The most notable example was the merger of the 75th and 92nd regiments to form the Gordon Highlanders, which sparked significant protests and symbolic gestures from both regiments. Alongside these reforms, there was a drive to bolster army numbers, aiming to recruit an additional one million troops sourced from Metropolitan Britain, the Unions, and colonial holdings. This expansion was coupled with a considerable surge in funding and equipment, re-establishing the British Military as the world's preeminent land and sea force.”


Chamberlain's talks with Caprivi highlighted the significant shift in Germany's foreign policy. With the non-renewal of the Reinsurance Treaty in 1891, it was evident that Germany was distancing itself from Russia. While Kaiser Wilhelm was reluctant to part ways with Austria, it was clear that Germany was keen on strengthening its ties with Britain at the expense of the seemingly bellicose Austrians. Back in London, the public and the press were closely watching this shift, worried about getting embroiled in mainland Europe's intricate web of alliances. A significant challenge was public opinion.

The youth, especially those in universities, viewed the radical states, like the FDI and Actionist France rise as a beacon of change, a fresh wind in a stagnating Europe, juxtaposing the conservative nature of the Government. Many public demonstrations demanding the government ally with the FDI to defeat Boulanger were seen in major cities. The growth in Republicanism caused by the election also brought with it renewed public displays, meetings, and periodicals supporting the abolition of the Regency. The press, ever hungry for stories, portrayed this as a nation divided. Following stories of the revolt occurring in France and with an onrush of literature from Sorel, Maurras, and Kaufer in late-1892, a budding Actionist movement within the SDF emerged centred around Henry Hyndman. While the party as a whole supported Pactism and the FDI in the Franco-Iberian conflict, a small tendency within the party deviated from this, creatively described as the 'deviationists.'

In December, a confidential meeting took place between Cecil and a select group of Unionist leaders. The aim? To determine the long-term stance towards the FDI and the evolving situation in France. As a whole, the Unionist leaders supported superficial support for the Kingdom of France, but at the cost of the Chancellery formally recognising the FDI and signing a peace treaty. Some argued for increased support, even suggesting military aid should Actionist France win and re-attempt to subdue the FDI. Others, more cautious, felt that Britain should continue its covert support to the FDI but avoid direct involvement in the French Civil War.

In the end, a middle path was chosen. Britain would increase its covert aid to the FDI and offer financial support, with Germany, to the Kingdom of France, ensuring they had the resources to stand against any Actionist offensive. But they would stop short of open military support, preferring to use diplomatic channels to discourage other European nations from intervening. The French Civil War had changed the European landscape. Britain, with its powerful Unionist government, was treading carefully, trying to maintain its influence while ensuring its own security and stability.

Alongside this, the Government began an energetic program of reform to win and repay the confidence placed in it by the voters and reduce the tensions in the electorate. The familiar hum of anticipation filled Parliament's chambers as A.V. Dicey prepared to speak. In the absence of President-Regent Stanley, Dicey took on the mantle to articulate the vision of the Unionist Government in the face of evolving times.

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A.V. Dicey, High Chancellor and future President of the Council of Great Britain

The spotlight shone first on education. Dicey emphasized the heritage and reputation of Britain's educational institutions. He proposed select universities mirroring the major denominations, staunchly asserting, "Our educational might is forged not by sprawling expansion but by preserving the sanctity of our centers of learning." It was a firm reminder: Britain's academic legacy would be safeguarded at all costs. With this, however, would come unwelcome central control for the Celtic States, promising clashes in the future.

Social welfare became a topic of pronounced debate since the 1889 London General Strike. The Government outlined a welfare vision straddling the line between progressive and traditional values. The Unionists advocated for a system where the truly vulnerable would find succor, yet the onus of self-reliance would remain paramount. The state's responsibility was to provide a safety net, not an enduring cradle. This sentiment, however, did not sit well with all. Progressive Unionists, like Jesse Collings, voiced their disquiet, lamenting the dilution of the bolder welfare schemes originally championed by Churchill in the Second Programme. Collings and his ilk saw an opportunity for Britain to evolve its stance on welfare, and they felt the conservative pivot was a missed chance. Collings said, "We brought the people with us by proclaiming a state of unity, now we divide them into the deserving and undeserving poor. How poor."

On infrastructure, the proposed Infrastructure and Employment Act was a testament to the Unionist vision for a large-scale work scheme to build up infrastructure. Prime Minister Joseph Chamberlain and State Affairs Secretary John Henry Chamberlain were entrusted with ensuring a harmonious blend between State initiatives and Union investment. Private investment would be welcomed, railroads would be expanded, and a mix of State and Union funds would fund bridges, military installations, and improvements to cities' infrastructure.

Closing his address, Dicey touched upon a proposed Imperial Defence Committee (IDC), reiterating Britain's indomitable spirit on the world stage. The committee's mandate was twofold: ensure Britain's security and coordinate its defense with the Unions. Initially, the IDC would include representatives from the British administration in India and government representatives in Australasia and Canada, with ex-officio positions for leaders of responsible governments in the colonies.

As Dicey concluded, the Unionist vision crystallized: a future where Britain would walk the tightrope between tradition and progress, ever wary of tilting too far in either direction. The challenge now lay in navigating these nuanced pathways as murmurs of both agreement and dissent echoed through the corridors of power.

As the new Parliament assembled, Britain found itself at a crossroads, balancing domestic reforms with the looming spectre of continental turmoil. The Unionist government, with Cecil's quiet hand guiding its decisions, sought to redefine the nation's identity amidst internal dissent and external threats. While the fervour of youth clamoured for revolutionary change and alliances shifted on the European stage, Britain's strategic diplomacy and domestic introspection became crucial. The coming years would test the mettle of this nation, its leaders, and its people as they navigated the challenges of an ever-changing geopolitical landscape.
 
Part 5, Chapter XXXI
V, XXXI: The New Risorgimento

The year was 1892, and the winds of change that had swept across Europe found their way to Italy. The nation's history, like a mosaic of contrasting hues, was about to be painted with the vivid strokes of a new ideology – Actionism. As whispers of revolution and fervent cries for change echoed through the streets of France, the neighboring nation of Italy stood at a crossroads. The land of ancient civilizations and Renaissance art had been grappling with its own set of challenges in the late 19th century. Economic hardships, social disparities, and political upheavals had cast a shadow over the Italian Peninsula.

In the bustling squares of Italy, where oranges hung heavy on the trees, a movement was born. The Fasci Italiano, or Fasci d'Azione Italiano emerged as a beacon of hope for the disenfranchised. Inspired by the revolutionary winds that had swept across France, the Fasci galvanized the poorest and most exploited members of society. They transformed the frustrations and discontent of the masses into a coherent vision of a better future grounded in the establishment of new rights.

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Giovanni Giolitti, Prime Minister of Italy

The movement's demands were straightforward – fair land rents, higher wages, lower local taxes, and the equitable distribution of common land. But within these seemingly simple demands lay the aspirations of a marginalized population yearning for justice. From July to October 1892, approximately 170 Fasci were established in Italy. As the movement gained momentum, its membership swelled to over 300,000 by the time November's election loomed on the horizon. Public demonstrations became a constant source of concern for the Italian Government.

The Fasci was a federation of various associations encompassing farm workers, tenant farmers, small sharecroppers, artisans, intellectuals, and industrial laborers. They came together under the banner of change, their unity symbolized by the bundle of sticks – "Fascio" – signifying that while a single stick may break, a bundle was unbreakable.

Amidst the tumultuous sea of political ideologies, the Italian Fasci carried a unique perspective on Actionism. Many of its leaders were devout Catholics, and this infusion of faith into their movement lent it a distinct character. In their meeting halls, crucifixes hung alongside purple Actionist flags, and portraits of revolutionaries like Garibaldi, Mazzini, Sorel, and Marx adorned the walls.

Their conviction led them to proclaim, "Jesus was a true socialist and wanted just what the Fasci were demanding."

As the November 1892 Election drew near, Italy found itself standing on the precipice of change. The conditions leading up to the election were far from ideal. The working class, a significant segment of the population, remained excluded from the electoral process. The contesting parties included the Liberals under Giovanni Giolitti, the Right led by Antonio Starabba di Rudinì, and the Radicals headed by Felice Cavallotti. Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti, now at the helm of the Italian Government, faced the daunting task of guiding the nation through these turbulent waters.

Beyond Italy's borders, the nation's allies, Germany and Britain, watched with keen interest. As members of the Accord powers, they both had a vested interest in Italy's stability. The outcome of the election held the potential to not only reshape Italy's domestic landscape but also influence its diplomatic relationships. Within the political spectrum, another new movement was brewing. The Social Democratic Party of Italy, founded in 1892 as the Party of Italian Workers, aligned itself with the principles of Pactism. This movement stood in stark contrast to the Actionists, condemning their deviation from the ideals of Pactism. In the midst of Italy's political maelstrom, the PSI sought to carve out its own path.

Amidst the fervor of the Fasci's emergence, Italy hurtled toward a pivotal moment in its history. As the nation grappled with newfound hope and mounting tension, the stage was set for the November 1892 Election, an event that would both test and redefine the nation's political landscape. The nation was poised for transformation, and the choices made in the coming days would shape its destiny. The storm of Actionism had arrived, and Italy was about to be swept up in its tempestuous embrace.

The sun hung low in the sky, casting long shadows across the Italian Peninsula as the nation held its collective breath, awaiting the outcome of the pivotal November 1892 Election. This election was not just a contest between political parties; it was a referendum on the path Italy would tread. As the results of the election slowly unfolded, they painted a bleak and revealing picture of Italy's political landscape. The new composition of the Chamber of Deputies did little to alleviate the growing tensions within the nation.

The Liberal faction emerged as the victor, but their victory was hardly a resounding one. Securing 369 seats, they had garnered the largest share, yet it was evident that Italy was not embracing their vision with open arms. Their message of moderation and gradual reform had, at best, struck a cautious chord with the voters. The Right managed to secure 76 seats, a testament to their unyielding conservatism. Still, their ideals faced an uphill battle against a changing political climate, and their influence seemed to wane. The Radicals found themselves with 63 seats. Their vision for radical change, though passionate, had failed to ignite a widespread fervor among the electorate.

However, the election was marred by controversy and allegations of vote-rigging and manipulation. In fear of Actionist sympathisers gaining seats in the Chamber, Radicals were arrested prior to the election and found themselves harassed and oppressed by the police. Key Actionist and Socialist figures were targetted also, and the Government resorted to vote rigging to ensure they retained their majority, with the tacit approval of the King and the Accord Powers, who wished to prevent the Actionist revolution from spreading to the Italian Peninsular.

Accusations of irregularities echoed across Italy, casting a long and dark shadow over the electoral process. Both the Fasci and the Socialist Party cried foul, asserting that the results did not accurately reflect the will of the people. Protests erupted across the nation as Actionists and Socialists took to the streets to voice their outrage. The piazzas and boulevards became arenas of dissent as citizens from all walks of life united in their demand for justice and fairness. Banners waved, slogans echoed, and impassioned speeches resounded through the air, creating a cacophony of discontent.

The allegations of vote rigging were at the forefront of these protests. Suspicion had swirled around the election process for weeks, fueled by whispers of irregularities and manipulation. Stories of tampered ballots and suppressed voices spread like wildfire, further stoking the flames of dissent.

The government's response to the protests was swift and severe. Authorities cracked down on demonstrators, attempting to quell the unrest with force. Tear gas filled the air, and clashes between protesters and law enforcement became increasingly common. The nation teetered on the edge of chaos as the discontent and frustration of the people reached a boiling point.

As the November sun dipped below the horizon, Giacomo, an art student from Turin, felt a surge of excitement coursing through his veins. Having recently relocated to Milan, the narrow streets were alive with anticipation as if the very cobblestones beneath his feet were poised for change. He was but a young man, barely in his twenties, yet his heart thumped with the conviction of a lifetime. He recorded his experience in his diaries:

“I had grown up in the shadow of hardships that had befallen his family's humble farm. Rising land rents and oppressive local taxes had cast a heavy burden on their shoulders. It was a burden shared by countless others, those who tilled the soil and toiled beneath the unforgiving Sicilian sun. These struggles had shaped his worldview, and I was determined to make my voice heard.

That evening, as I joined the throngs of fellow protesters, I felt a profound sense of unity - a renewed risorgimento. The purpose rosette I pinned to my chest having been given it by a passer-by bore the emblem of the Fasci, a symbol of our collective hope. Together, we were more than just individuals; they were a force, a chorus of voices demanding justice.

The streets echoed with chants and slogans, resonating with the grievances of the marginalized. I marched alongside my comrades, my determination unwavering. The evening air was charged with tension, yet there was an undeniable sense of purpose that bound us together.

As the demonstration swelled, I couldn't help but glance at the historical buildings that lined the streets. They bore witness to centuries of Italian history, but tonight, they bore witness to something new—an awakening. The purple Actionist flag, a symbol of change, waved proudly alongside the crucifix, a testament to the melding of faith and reform.

But our cries for justice were met with resistance. Giolotti's response was swift and harsh. Suddenly, a loud bang pierced my ears, and I felt a sharp pain shoot up my leg, and I fell, struggling to breathe. I had been hit with grapeshot and was near death. A member of the Fasci picked me up and took me to a doctor who treated my wounds. Another few minutes, he said, and I would have died. At that moment, I knew that I was part of something larger than myself. I was part of a movement that dared to challenge the status quo, a movement that believed in a brighter future. As the protests raged on, I clung to the hope from my hospital bed that their collective voice would eventually break through the barriers of oppression and ring out as a call for change.”


The Giacomo in question? Giacomo Balla, the future leader of Partito d'Azione Italiano. He would forever walk with a limp after the shooting, a distinguishing feature of the man who would haunt the nightmares of the Italian establishment over the next two decades.

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Giacomo Balla, the future leader of Partito d'Azione Italiano

As Italy grappled with the aftermath of the November 1892 Election, it was evident that the nation stood at a precipice. The Liberal faction, holding a significant majority in the Chamber of Deputies, would play a pivotal role in shaping Italy's future. Their commitment to cautious progress and reform would guide the nation through the challenges and uncertainties that lay ahead. Yet, this election had laid bare the deep-seated divisions within Italy. The discontent and disillusionment simmering beneath the surface threatened to erupt into something far more destructive. Italy's future appeared increasingly uncertain, and the echoes of a nation teetering on the brink of chaos grew louder with each passing day.
 
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V, XXXI: The New Risorgimento

The Giacomo in question? Giacomo Balla, the future leader of the Partito Actionista Italia. He would forever walk with a limp after the shooting, a distinguishing feature of the man who would haunt the nightmares of the Italian establishment over the next two decades.

Once again I'm here with only a linguistic annotation to offer:

That name is more than a little messed up. First of all "action" is written "azione" in Italian, meaning that the word would be "Azionista", not "Actionista". Even then, Italy has had two (or two and a half, from a certain perspective) parties throughout her history bearing a name inspired by the word for action and both were called "Partito d'Azione", "Party of Action". The reason is pretty simple: azionista as an adjective sounds quite a bit awkward in the Italian language. Let alone that as a noun it's already a financial term which means "shareholder", since shares of a comapny are called azioni in Italian. And finally there's the little detail that Italia is just a noun. It doesn't work in that position with a preposition, though the dedicated adjective would be preferable.

My counterproposal would be "Partito d'Azione Italiano". It works really well as a homage to Giuseppe Mazzini (one of the founding fathers of Italy and the founder of the first incarnation of the Partito d'Azione), who also happens to be too dead to complain about ideological discrepancies (always a plus).
 
Once again I'm here with only a linguistic annotation to offer:

That name is more than a little messed up. First of all "action" is written "azione" in Italian, meaning that the word would be "Azionista", not "Actionista". Even then, Italy has had two (or two and a half, from a certain perspective) parties throughout her history bearing a name inspired by the word for action and both were called "Partito d'Azione", "Party of Action". The reason is pretty simple: azionista as an adjective sounds quite a bit awkward in the Italian language. Let alone that as a noun it's already a financial term which means "shareholder", since shares of a comapny are called azioni in Italian. And finally there's the little detail that Italia is just a noun. It doesn't work in that position with a preposition, though the dedicated adjective would be preferable.

My counterproposal would be "Partito d'Azione Italiano". It works really well as a homage to Giuseppe Mazzini (one of the founding fathers of Italy and the founder of the first incarnation of the Partito d'Azione), who also happens to be too dead to complain about ideological discrepancies (always a plus).
Once again, many thanks for pointing a linguistic slip up of mine - I’ll make this amendment ☺️ Partito D’Azione Italiano works best for me, with the Mazzini connection I think it’s perfect. Thanks!
 
Part 5, Chapter XXXII
V, XXXII: The Reluctant Revolutionary

The 1892 US General Election saw a competition between three main parties, Farmer-Labor, Republicans, and Democrats. Still, within these groups, factions existed that made tracking the support each candidate received difficult. The Republicans were beginning to divide between Progressive and Conservative wings, with a smaller faction advocating free coinage of silver, known as the ‘free silver’ movement. The Democrats were divided between those favouring free silver, who were generally more progressive and known as the ‘Silver Democrats.’ Those against it, known as the ‘Gold Democrats,’ were generally classically liberal, preferring ‘sound money.’

By contrast, the Farmer-Labor Party seemed relatively united on many issues; most notably free silver. This attracted more and more of the Silver Democrats to the Farmer-Labor Party (FLP) and made them more of a serious proposition in the eyes of the electorate. The FLP had also been boosted by the 1891 gubernatorial elections, in which S. B. Erwin became Governor of Kentucky.

Upon his term beginning, he quickly introduced legislation to purchase telegraphs and railroads for the state and introduced a graduated income tax to pay for state-controlled education. Divisions between different groups within the Kentucky Farmer-Labor Party hampered some of the progress, but overall, the administration was considered a success. Farmer-Labor members were positive that they could capture some electoral college votes leading into the elections.

The FLP's convention in July 1892 was not just another gathering; it was the culmination of diverse labor and agrarian movements, bearing the hopes and aspirations of millions. The convention hall was a mosaic of America's working class. Delegates from the Northern, Southern, and "Colored" associations of the Farmers Alliance filled the room. The powerful presence of the Colored Farmers Alliance was especially notable. Despite the initial reluctance from Southern Farmers to include them, their sheer number, over 1.2 million strong, and the strategic advantage they provided in garnering Republican support, made them indispensable.

Everywhere one looked, there were badges and symbols representing various factions, a testament to the amalgamation of groups that the Farmer-Labor Party had managed to bring together.

As delegates roamed the hall, they engaged in animated discussions, bridging divides and building consensus. Reporters from the National Reform Press Association, an alliance of newspapers rallying behind the Farmer-Labor movement, scribbled notes fervently, capturing every nuance of this historic gathering. Charles Macune's "Macune Plan" was a frequent topic, with many advocating its salient points, such as the eight-hour workday and the innovative agrarian "Sub-Treasury Plan."

The sudden demise of Leonidas L. Polk, the popular FLP organizer, cast a somber shadow. His unexpected absence was palpable, but the party needed to move forward. As Walter Q. Gresham's name began to circulate as a potential candidate, the atmosphere grew thick with expectation. And when his nomination was announced, a roar of approval swept through the convention hall. Gresham, known for his rulings against big railroad companies, was seen as a beacon of hope. Hardworking farmers, their hands bearing the marks of relentless labor, cheered in unison, marking a moment of unity for the nascent Farmer-Labor Party.

Gresham had been a Republican candidate for the nomination in 1884 and 1888, achieving the endorsement of forerunners to the FLP like the Agricultural Wheel, Grange, and Farmers Alliance in 1888. He had served as Postmaster-General in President Chester A Arthur’s cabinet in 1883, briefly as Treasury Secretary, and has extensive experience in the Federal Courts. He was a man caught between two worlds. His Republican past was a testament to his deep-rooted beliefs in a conservative, structured government.

Yet, as he witnessed the changing tide and the struggles of the common man, his heart leaned more and more towards the FLP's promise of change. The internal battle was evident every time he took the stage. One could see it in the slight hesitation before he spoke, in the way his eyes darted across the room, seeking both approval and forgiveness. Aligning with the FLP was more than a political move for Gresham; it was a personal journey of reconciling his past affiliations with his newfound vision for America.

The Farmer-Labor Party platform called for the nationalization of the telegraph, telephone, and railroads, free coinage of silver, a graduated income tax, and the creation of postal savings banks. While Gresham was unsure about accepting the nomination, the success of the FLP in states like Kentucky had led him to believe that he could launch a bid and worry the two main parties. The convention nominated James H. Kyle, a popular US Senator and one of the first FLP members elected to the chamber, as their candidate for Vice President.

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Walter Gresham, Farmer-Labor candidate for President, 1892

Gresham represented the moderate wing of the party and sought to present a respectable faction to voters. On the other hand, Kyle was a radical who appealed to the core base of workers and farmers. These factions weren’t as prevalent as in the Republican and Democratic parties (which would continue to deteriorate as the years passed). Still, they required some electoral massage to smooth the process.

In the tumultuous political climate leading up to the election, Gresham often found himself lost in deep thought, pacing the floor of his private library. As a patriot, he had always prioritized the well-being of his nation above all else. The specter of a divided nation troubled him immensely. The chasm between the major political parties had widened, threatening to bring legislative gridlock and, potentially, civil unrest. Gresham remembered the teachings of his youth, the need for unity, and the importance of seeking a middle ground. The idea of a unity government had always lingered in the back of his mind—a way to bridge divides and prevent stagnation. Many called him "The Reluctant Revolutionary," a moniker designed to convey his desire for compromise between the major factions in Washington.

Moreover, Gresham's association with the Farmer-Labor Party was one of circumstance rather than deep ideological alignment. He often mused that his run for the presidency was more of an independent endeavor, merely supported by the FLP. The party's radical elements, at times, made him uneasy, and he'd often find himself in disagreement with some of their more extreme stances. While he appreciated their support, Gresham never felt wholly at home with the FLP.

In whispered conversations in the corridors of power, Gresham was often heard emphasizing the need for unity and collaboration. His calls for compromise often met with furrowed brows from party hardliners, were an open secret in the political circles of Washington. For those who truly knew Gresham, it was clear that he was a man who would always prioritize the greater good over partisan politics.
 
Part 5, Chapter XXXIV
V, XXXIV: "Essentially Unimportant"

Unsurprisingly, President Benjamin Harrison was renominated as the GOP candidate when the dust settled, although it was a fiercer contest than anyone imagined. The Republicans had nominated Harrison in an attempt to stave off the flight of its voters to the FLP: President Harrison had been so concerned at its rise that he passed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in 1890 to decrease the silver supply by permitting the US Government to purchase silver from producers in the West.

Ultimately, the Sherman Act was a half measure that hadn’t satisfied the free silver lobby, nor the western settlers who were moving away from the Republican Party for a simpler reason: tariffs. The McKinley Tariff was extremely unpopular in the West as it raised the price of food and other goods. The FLP remained wedded to the Georgist position of free land, free trade, and free people, which had attracted Gresham to the party: he broke decisively with the Republicans after the McKinley Tariff. Harrison’s attempts to quell the silver lobby also attracted the ire of the opponents of bimetallism within his own party.

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President Benjamin Harrison was looking for a second term

The Fifty-first Congress, under the Harrison administration, also witnessed sweeping legislative actions, asserting strong federal authority. Emblematic of the "Billion Dollar Congress," it was characterized by high spending, notably with the generous Civil War pensions. Key measures like the McKinley Tariff and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act reshaped the economic landscape, while the Sherman Antitrust Act aimed to regulate monopolistic practices. However, Congress's lavish expenditures and the economic strain from some policies led to public discontent. Despite substantial legislative accomplishments, the perceived fiscal irresponsibility and economic repercussions made Republicans increasingly unpopular.

The Conservative Gold Wing of the Republican Party dominated proceedings, managing the process as to sideline the calls for more radical policies from the Silver Republicans. Despite including bimetallism in its official party program, the Republican platform gave a nod to silver without genuinely embracing its tenets. This stance, along with the party's firm commitment to high tariffs and stricter immigration policies, reflected the Gold Wing's desire to maintain the economic status quo and appeal to industrial and banking interests.

The convention's political manoeuvrings were shocking to many within the political establishment. McKinley, perceived as a threat to Harrison’s candidature from the moderate-progressive wing of the party, was sidelined as he became the chairman of the convention, a politically neutral role. Blaine, another perceived challenger, decided not to seek nomination after being strongarmed by the Gold wing, which believed that Harrison could be controlled more effectively. These machinations demonstrated the internal conflicts and power plays within the party. While the party leadership successfully re-nominated Harrison, the internal fractures pointed to a party at odds with itself, struggling to unify its base.

The Republican platform’s mention of sympathy for the Democratic Federation of Iberia and persecuted Jews in Europe showed an attempt to cast a wider net of support. Still, the party's true commitment to these issues remained unclear. The overwhelming influence of the Conservative Gold Wing at the convention would have lasting implications for the Republican Party and its future direction.

Despite the ease of Harrison’s nomination, there was significant foreboding about the prospects of Harrison in the election. A prominent figure and former Republican candidate for Mayor of New York, Theodore Roosevelt, wrote to a colleague during the convention, “It seems that the country is moving away from the Grand Old Party. While President Harrison garners my endorsement and is the best placed, in my opinion, to force a compromise between the two growing factions of the country, I fear the President is doomed to be placed in the political vice. My choice, despite my endorsement, would be to support the candidacy of Gresham: a good Republican who is undoubtedly more popular than anyone associated with the current administration.”

The Democratic National Convention was a spectacle of division and debate. Passionate speeches filled the air, some met with resounding applause, and others drowned in a chorus of boos. The deep fissures within the party were evident, not just in words but in the very atmosphere of the convention hall. Democrats were fiercely divided between its Silver and Gold wings of the party and between the 'Bourbon' conservative wing and the growing progressive wing.

The establishment of the Farmer-Labor threat to its left had emboldened progressives to push a more radical program. At the same time, the Bourbon wing, in coalition with the conservative southern Democrats, maintained a hold on the party machinery and looked set to renominate Grover Cleveland for President. Cleveland was a member of the gold camp and was essentially a classical liberal, and with a rising threat to the party arriving, seen as ineffectual to the task. Senior figures believed that free trade, not free silver, would determine most voters' minds as it affected everyday costs.

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Grover Cleveland, the Democratic Party candidate for the 1892 Election

The 1892 Democratic Platform voiced strong opposition to Republican policies, including the Lodge Bill, designed to impose federal control of elections to prevent subversion of black voters, which was extremely unpopular with Southern Democrats. It also rallied against the extravagant spending of the 51st Congress, the McKinley Tariff, and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. The Democrats expressed concern over the recent Republican convention's nomination process, seeing it as an affront to democratic ideals. They also sought protections for railway employees and a robust waterway infrastructure.

On the international stage, the Democrats condemned the oppression of various European governments towards their Jewish and Lutheran subjects. The platform backed the construction of the Nicaragua Canal, affirmed the need for a competent navy, and displayed an openness towards Canadian provinces joining the Republic. Domestically, they proposed rigorous enforcement of laws against Chinese immigration and contract foreign workmen but championed the rights of industrious immigrants. They advocated for liberal state-level appropriations for public schools, keeping parental rights in education decisions, and providing just pensions for Union war veterans.

In the end, while overtures were made to appeal to progressive voters, Cleveland dismissed the platform's progressive ideals, telling a newspaper reporter (believing he was speaking off-the-record in what might be the first ever ‘hot mic’ of American political history) that the measures were “essentially unimportant.”
 
Part 5, Chapter XXXV
V, XXXV: A Party Betrayed
After Cleveland's nomination and his admission of empty promises to the progressive wings of his party, several members spent the campaign drifting from Cleveland and towards Gresham, and the intervention of the popular Irish Premier, Michael Davitt, further boosted Gresham's popularity on the Eastern Seaboard. Many Catholic Democrats switched to the Farmer-Labor ticket, as did many Republicans in states like New York that had links to the labour movement. Gresham's history as a former Republican also undermined President Harrison's support among an element of the Republican's former base of labourers.

As the results trickled in, a hush descended upon the Republican campaign headquarters. Faces turned grim, and some heads hung in disbelief. The mighty party had been dealt a blow, and the uncertainty of America's choice echoed in the tense murmurs of the crowd. Across the west, Republican slates had fallen to the Farmer-Labor Party, and in its other heartland, the east, it had lost New York's electoral votes and its state house. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Delaware, each with a large Irish population, also defected to the FLP. When the electoral count was tallied, none had secured a majority of the electoral votes, but it was clear that President Harrison had been defeated, only securing 87 electoral votes.

1892 United States Presidential Electoral Vote
Grover Cleveland (Democratic) - 210 (16 States Carried)
Walter Q. Gresham (Farmer-Labor) - 147 (14 States Carried)
Benjamin Harrison (Republican) - 87 (13 States Carried)

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In the Senate and House, both major parties took hits. The FLP swept state legislatures in the west, displacing Republicans primarily, but a number of states in the Great Plains, like Texas, fell to the FLP. In the following Senate elections, after these members had been voted in, the FLP caucus in the Senate grew to 15 seats. In the House, the FLP narrowly missed out on overtaking the Republicans. The Democrats emerged as the largest party in each, and Grover Cleveland with 4.2 million votes, Gresham second in the popular vote with four million, and Benjamin Harrison third, with three million. No parties controlled the legislature, and there would have to be a contingent election for the next President of the United States.

The results could not have been worse for the situation of the United States. With the situation in France deteriorating, and global trade hampered by the increasingly violent Civil War there, lawmakers on all sides agreed that time was of the essence. Lawmakers therefore agreed to the extraordinary step of calling the contingent election early, on November 13th, five days after the election to resolve any disputes about the transition of power. Essentially, this would take the form of an unofficial straw poll of the state delegations at the National Portrait Gallery, called to give the markets and wider populous a guide to the future plans and arrest investor worries.

US Senate after the Election
Democrats 38
Republicans 35
Farmer-Labor 15

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US House after the Election
Democrats 175
Republicans 95
Farmer-Labor 84

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National Portrait Gallery Straw Poll, First Round
Grover Cleveland (Democratic) - 16
Walter Q. Gresham (Farmer-Labor) - 14
Benjamin Harrison (Republican) - 13

National Portrait Gallery Straw Poll, Second Round
Grover Cleveland (Democratic) - 22
Walter Q. Gresham (Farmer-Labor) - 18
Benjamin Harrison (Republican) - 3

Seeing the global uncertainty, as part of the negotiations about an early contingent election, Gresham agreed with senior Democratic leadership to stand aside in exchange for the Secretary of State position, and the leader essentially defected immediately after the election finished. The FLP nominee then negotiated with several more conservative Republican delegations to bring them onside, promising a renewed all-party cabinet. In the National Portrait Gallery, Gresham sat in the viewing gallery. Word has spread that the nominee had sold his party out prior to the second ballot, but FLP members in the House simply couldn't believe it. It was done: Cleveland had secured a second term through the negotiation tactics of his rival.

The room was cold and silent as Gresham's betrayal became evident. 'After all we've built, Walter?' James H. Kyle, the vice-presidential candidate, called across the viewing gallery, his voice tinged with a mix of anger and disbelief. Gresham shifted uncomfortably, his usual eloquence failing him. “I believed in our cause,” he began, but his voice faltered under the weight of dozens of piercing eyes, "but a house divided against itself cannot stand." An onlooker shouted, “He lies! Gresham never once cared about the people, only power!”

A prominent member of the Farmer-Labor Party, James G. Field, stood up, his voice clear and unwavering, “You've traded the hopes and dreams of the American workers and farmers for a seat at their table. Your betrayal is a testament to your character, not our cause.” The room erupted in agreement, and the decision was unanimous. Once a beacon of hope for the party, Gresham was now an outcast. Even Democrats and Republicans were horrified at the betrayal, with some openly siding with the FLP on the steps of the US Capitol.

The room was thick with tension as Gresham's betrayal became clear. Faces once friendly now looked upon him with disdain. The silence was palpable, broken only by the solemn declaration of his expulsion from the Farmer-Labor Confederation. Showing his flippant disregard for the party that nominated him, he didn't even show up to the meeting expelling him.

The administration would immediately jettison free silver, nationalisation, and inflationary monetary policy, instead focusing on removing tariffs and promoting smaller government. The 1892 election is considered the end of the Third Party System and the beginning of the Fourth Party System, punctuated by gridlock and splintered government. Cleveland is considered the first modern Federalist President, as his alliance between the Democrats, who were primarily Southern, and Republicans from big industries in the north acted against the FLP and marginalised them from power as separate organisations. Defeat clutched from the jaws of victory. The Democratic-Republican Party considers the members who protested the election to be its first caucus. These three groups, the pro-Cleveland, pro-Unity Federalist Party, the anti-Cleveland, pro-reform Democratic-Republican Party, and the Farmer-Labor Party, would be the basis of the Fourth Party System.

Among Farmer-Labor supporters, Gresham became public enemy number one. They would be hurt but not unenthused by the disappointment of the Cleveland administration and keen to find a more morally sound candidate in 1896. As the dust settled on the 1892 elections, America stood at a crossroads, with the FLP licking its wounds but far from defeated. The coming years would test the nation's resolve and redefine its political identity.

Note: This chapter was updated as I had uploaded an earlier version of the piece. The only difference is the location of the "straw poll" and the date of it.
 
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Supplemental: The Balkan Realms
Supplemental: The Balkan Kingdom under Carol I

From “The Powderkeg Kingdom: Balkan Kingdom 1886-1907” by R. Crampton, 1997

“Domestically, The period between 1886 and 1892 was foundational for the Balkan Kingdom, seeing the union of Romania and Bulgaria in a bid to resist larger European powers' influence and to realize a long-standing dream of Balkan unity.

While this text uses the unitary term ‘Balkan Kingdom’ to describe the state, it was, in practice, a loose personal union of the Tsardom of Bulgaria, Kingdom of Romania, and a created entity called the Grand Principality of Niš, which was created in the South and East of Serbia. Niš remained part of Serbia and was controlled in an uneasy condominium with Austria.

The state as a whole was described as the ‘Balkan Kingdom,’ or ‘Balkan Realm,’ as Carol I was King of Romania, Tsar of Bulgaria, and Grand Prince of Niš. Internally, ‘the Realm’ was used, and both were interchangeable when describing the Balkans outside of the Peninsular. Despite ruling his Realm as a collection of dynastic entities, during these transformative years, the Balkan Kingdom’s political, economic, and socio-cultural landscape underwent significant reshaping, setting the stage for the events leading up to the Turbulence.

The Russian intervention in Bulgaria and the death of Knyaz Ferdinand saw the rise of Carol I to the Bulgarian throne. This move, symbolizing the personal union of Bulgaria and Romania, faced Austrian resistance. However, the consequent Balkan War of Independence culminated in the formation of the Balkan Kingdom, marked by the expulsion of Austria hegemony in Serbia and the Kingdom’s territorial expansion. The walkback from Serbia to condominium status was controversial throughout the Realm, and was equally unpopular in the Hungarian half of the Habsburg lands, as it was seen as the first step to Romanian annexation of Transylvania.

Politics in the Realm was divided between national and Kingdom-wide spheres. The Realm was governed by a ‘Unified Diet,’ which contained representatives from the three realms. Carol appointed Stefan Stambolov as High Commissioner of the Realm, analogous to Prime Mininter or Chancellor. Carol insisted that six Vice Commissioners were appointed, split equally between Bulgarian, Romanian, and Serbian members, referred collectively as the Imperial Commission.

Stambolov lobbied Carol to establish a governance structure where Romania, Bulgaria, and the Grand Principality maintained their constitutions and laws to allow the states to feel at ease in the budding empire. While the Commission acted primarily as a coordination body, its influence was profound, especially in foreign policy and defense matters - two of its members were military advisors from the Bulgarian and Romanian Army.

While Bulgaria remained agriculturally driven with limited industry and resources, Romania presented a richer economic profile. The period saw efforts to harmonize economic policies, promote cross-border trade, and encourage foreign investments, particularly from the Accord Powers. The question of a unified currency remained unanswered, with both nations holding onto their monetary systems and Serbia continuing to use its currency.

While this could have been an issue, the country was sitting on relatively full coffers after Stambolov initiated a Realm-wide reform of tax collection, closing loopholes, especially for a group in Romania called the ‘lessers’ or intermediaries between landlords and peasants. Further reforms aimed at bulking up the national treasury for a program for a unification effort: building bridges and roads throughout the Realm, connecting the territories through rail, and also funding infrastructure projects within the wider Balkan region to impress what it saw as an emerging Great Power status on the region.

The split in the country that needed to be bridged extended to the armed forces. Carol had command over two distinct armies, which presented both strength and challenges. This joint force was the Kingdom’s bulwark against external threats, but balancing the interests, traditions, and strategies of two distinct military entities required constant diplomacy. Carol maintained a command structure for both armies, but the force was not tested enough to predict whether it could maintain unity in the threat of an invasion. Carol utilised Stambolov's enthusiasm for the project, and the presence of military commanders on the Commission, to further solidify cooperation. The ruler of the Balkan's attempts to foster a unified Balkan identity amidst inherent diversity were noteworthy.

While a broader Balkan consciousness began to take shape, Romanian and Bulgarian cultures and traditions flourished autonomously. During this period, the Kingdom showcased a unique interplay of culture, striving to amalgamate different traditions while still allowing individual identities to shine.

The Martenitsa Festival, a Bulgarian tradition symbolizing the arrival of spring, began to gain popularity in parts of Romania, often blending with Romanian customs related to Mărțișor. Conversely, Romanian literary works, such as those by Mihai Eminescu, saw translations into Bulgarian and were embraced for their universal themes.

Art also became a bridge between the two nations. Bulgarian and Romanian artists collaborated in joint exhibitions, showcasing the shared themes of hope, struggle, and unity in their artworks. Theater troupes from Sofia and Bucharest frequently toured each other's countries, performing plays that subtly emphasized Balkan unity and shared heritage. This cultural exchange was not one-sided; Bulgarian writers such as Ivan Vazov began to focus on themes that while intrinsically Bulgarian, resonated with the broader Balkan experiences, particularly the shared Ottoman past and the dream of a united future. His publication of Under the Yoke, a book that presents the Ottoman repression of the peninsular, was published in Romanian, Bulgarian, and Serbian, and read widely in each of the Kingdoms.

The Kingdom’s foreign policy was a tightrope walk. While fostering ties with the Accord Powers, the Balkan Realms faced non-cooperation from traditional European juggernauts Russia. While Austria officially tolerated the Balkan Realms, it continued to treat each state as separate, and sent ambassadors to Sofia and Bucharest. Stambolov's diplomacy sought to seek further recognition of the unified arrangement, and protect Balkan strategic interests without overly antagonizing any major power. While Carol still maintained autonomy over foreign affairs, it was expected that should it impact a few factors: the territory of the Realms, the Crown’s relationship with the Austrians and Russians, and decisions with implications for Pan-Balkanism, would always be consulted with the Unified Diet.

While coming from Catholic lineage, Carol confirmed the domination of Eastern Orthodoxy in his realms. The recognition of the Romanian, Bulgarian, and Serbia Patriarchs on equal footing, dominant within their own spheres, as well as Catholic and Protestants, coupled with oppressive state-sanctioned measures against non-Christians, marked this period. Carol walked an impressive tightrope between these branches of the Orthodox faith, often eternally quarrelling. Carol's pronouncement that his realms would welcome 'all of the Orthodox and Christian faiths' led to heated rivalry between the Romanian and Bulgarian Patriarchs. The Monarchs ability to play them off one another and balance their interests was testament to his ability as a unifying Monarch.

The preeminence of Eastern Orthodoxy under Carol's reign was both a uniting and divisive factor within the Kingdom. While it offered a common religious platform for Romanians, Bulgarians, and Serbians, it also meant the marginalization of other religious communities, especially Muslims, Jews, and other non-Christians. Religious festivals and holidays, predominantly Eastern Orthodox in nature, were promoted as national events, further entrenching its dominance. However, this overt favoritism led to growing discontent among other religious communities. Muslims, who had coexisted in the Balkans for centuries, found themselves sidelined, with many mosques either being appropriated or repurposed, leading to silent protests and passive resistance.

In parts of Bulgaria, where Catholic communities were significant, there were reports of subtle tensions, especially during religious festivals. The state's heavy-handed approach in suppressing non-Orthodox religious expressions was a ticking time bomb, threatening the Kingdom's internal cohesion. Although outright revolts were rare, there was an undercurrent of unrest, a silent dissent that echoed in the Kingdom's quieter corners.

The implications were deep-seated, marginalising significant portions of the population, especially non-Christian landless peasants. The years 1886-1892 witnessed a burgeoning of educational institutions in both countries of the Kingdom. Carol's personal initiatives, like learning Bulgarian and Serbo-Croat to speak with all of his subjects, symbolized the leadership's intent to bridge linguistic divides. However, each state continued its educational trajectory in its native tongue, and maintaining linguistic parity proved costly in administration, leading to a cumbersome quarrel between Romanian and Bulgarian to be the ‘primal’ language of the state.

Northern Serbia's potential inclusion in the Kingdom remained a significant talking point. Carol and the Commission were acutely aware of such a move's repercussions, especially vis-à-vis Austria. Consequently, while there were diplomatic overtures, a full integration did not materialize during this period. As the Kingdom solidified its foundations, the dream of a united Balkan State, including nations like Greece, Montenegro, Bosnia, and Croatia, began to gain momentum. The leadership envisioned a formidable entity, able to hold its own in the tumultuous European political landscape.

The years 1886-1892 marked a transformative era for the Balkan Kingdom, symbolizing a bold step towards regional unity amidst the backdrop of European politics. King Carol I's vision of a united Balkan entity sought to thread together diverse cultural, economic, and political landscapes. While successes were aplenty, from the blending of cultural identities to the establishment of an influential Unified Diet, challenges persistently loomed. The Kingdom's inception, grounded in the aspirations of unity and sovereignty, set the trajectory for future dynamics. As the Balkan Kingdom navigated its foundational years, the dream of an expansive united Balkan State continued to simmer, hinting at the vast potential and challenges that lay ahead.”
 
Finally caught up, great work with this.

Why do I have a feeling the FLP is going to come to power in 1896 in the US assuming the coming term is as bad as the OTL one? (Also, the American patriot in me wants the USA to annex some of Canada, not sure how likely that is though...)

With that update on the Balkan Kingdom, what's the current status of Greece? How about the rump Ottomans?

And lastly one minor question: what's the status of Man and the Channel Islands after the end of the monarchy?
 
Finally caught up, great work with this.

Why do I have a feeling the FLP is going to come to power in 1896 in the US assuming the coming term is as bad as the OTL one? (Also, the American patriot in me wants the USA to annex some of Canada, not sure how likely that is though...)

With that update on the Balkan Kingdom, what's the current status of Greece? How about the rump Ottomans?

And lastly one minor question: what's the status of Man and the Channel Islands after the end of the monarchy?
1. Maybe so, maybe so...

2. I haven’t gotten round to Greece yet, but it is on my list to cover before the end of this book (which, at this rate, is going to span 80 chapters 😂)

3. Funnily enough, I’ve been spending a load of time in IOM at the minute - as it stands, the country and the Channel Islands remain as untouched really, except the Union Government appoints the Governor. There’s actually a long connection between the President-Regent, the Earl of Derby, and the IOM! This will be covered in the future though.
 
Part 5, Chapter XXXVI
V, XXXVI: The Early War

The forces of rebellion in France after the mutiny all had a common goal, but poor efforts at centralising leadership meant that the pro-Boulanger forces initially sat on the back foot. In the early days after Bastille Day, the country was divided between rebel-held land, controlled and patrolled by the Fédérés, the Mutineers, and the National Guard, and the lands controlled by the Legislative Assembly, the King, an organised and armed police force, and the rest of the domestic French Army.

The advantage initially held with the more organised and stronger Royal forces, even with the enthusiastic abandon and passion of the Fédérés. A fluid front line, with Fédéré-held cities and Royal cities often retaining trade between merchants and the free movement of civilians, meant there was little difference for French citizens in much of the country, except for the colour of the soldier's armbands on the streets. The truth was most of the country sat in a grey area: the dislocation of having the Republic, the State with Boulanger, then suddenly the King left many feeling a little confused, and many were not sure who was in charge anymore.

As their territory expanded around France, especially along the Southern border, the Fédérés established a 'Soldiers Executive.' This new body, featuring high-ranking militia leaders, would act as a centralized command structure. While a national body was, in theory, the sole command structure, the command was in practice divided into three divisions: South (including all of the Southern and Eastern enclaves), North (stemming from the Lille Commune out), and the West (from the Lyon Commune).

The Fédérés were part paramilitary, part anti-authority gang, and part community organisation, providing security for the communes. They would protect working-class neighbourhoods, facilitate the forced requisitioning of property to be collectivised, and attempt to intimidate the Police into submission to take over a neighbourhood - often through street murders and haphazard assassination by groups of young men, who derided Police and any state official as collaborators. If the police abandoned the area, the rebels often rid the towns they controlled of anyone with any resemblance of wealth or status - burning homes, stealing and looting, and destroying property. Wherever there were Fédérés, there were also assassinations, public murders in broad daylight, and weapons raids in Royalist towns and cities.

While workers were generally pro-Boulanger, the middle and upper classes had split loyalties. Families were divided by the conflict; many members of the same family would end up fighting against each other. Many still ate dinner together in the early days of the campaign. Though at the outset of the mutiny, the Grand Chancellery was thrown into chaos, the command of General de Boisdeffre had a positive and calming impact, and the French Army was able to regain its footing.

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King Louis-Phillippe II of the French, French Head of State June 1892 - March 1893

Initially, King Louis-Phillipe appealed to clemency and indicated that any Fédérés could return to the fold of the French Army and society if the rebellion were halted and residents could and should return to the cities. The exodus had dislocated production and disrupted deliveries, meaning the remaining residents were about to starve. In its early capacity, the Army prevented a famine by establishing temporary grain silos on the outskirts of Paris using forcibly requisitioned grain. Due to this leniency, Paris saw thousands of Fédérés among returning refugees, hidden in plain site.

Despite the King’s olive branch, the tensions between the Royalists and the Fédérés continued to escalate. Murmurings of the illegitimacy of the state in many quarters took the form of violent protests over symbols of the Monarchy, attacks on foreign-owned businesses, and subsequently a crime wave spread among many cities not held by rebel forces. The simmering discontent among these elements soon reached a boiling point, manifesting in a deadly assassination attempt on the King on September 5th. On a dreary morning overshadowed by grey clouds, the Royal entourage ventured through the heart of Paris amidst a crowd gathered in a mix of reverence and dissent. The scene was tense, with nervous glances exchanged among the Royal guards as murmurs swirled through the crowd.

Suddenly, as the King's carriage navigated through the crowd, a sharp, haunting crack of a gunshot tore through the air, immediately followed by muffled screams and gasps from the crowd. The bullet narrowly missed the King, who sat stunned, his face pale but composed. The guards acted swiftly, surrounding the King and apprehending the assailant, a 24-year-old former soldier, from amidst the chaos. The image of the King's shaken but unharmed figure amidst the stern faces of his guards was etched into the minds of onlookers, a stark testament to the simmering unrest that had gripped the nation. The front page of a leading Royalist newspaper was adorned with the headline, "The early war is over. The revenge has begun."

After this, the Army under General de Boisdeffre was given free rein to root out the rebels. The Police had found that up to 250 Fédérés were hidden around the city. When a local leader was arrested as part of the plot, the Fédérés kidnapped the Paris Police Prefect, Henri-Auguste Lozé. The streets of Paris were a portrait of chaos as news of the Police Prefect's kidnapping spread like wildfire. The city's core was paralyzed by a torrent of fear and uncertainty, with people rushing towards their homes and peering through windows at the ominous sea of unrest flooding the streets.

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Paris Police Prefect, Henri-Auguste Lozé

The Prefect's abduction was not just an attack on law and order but a brazen challenge to the authority that had, until now, held the fragile peace together. The anguish of the Police force was palpable as they rampaged into a rebel safehouse, the desperation in their eyes reflecting the gnawing fear of a city on the brink. Lozé's body was found in a suitcase on the banks of the Seine when the Government refused to hand over the prisoners. Finally, the King pronounced a full state of emergency and empowered de Boisdeffre to rid the city of infiltrators.

Two hundred Fédérés, seeing the desperation of their situation, barricaded themselves into the seat of the Legislative Assembly, so the General opened fire using Artillery on September 10th. The evening sky was ablaze, not with the colours of a sunset, but the fury of artillery as shells rained down upon the Legislative Assembly. The once majestic structure now lay vulnerable under a hailstorm of iron and fire. The sight of the Palais Bourbon, now shrouded in smoke and flames, was a harrowing symbol of a democracy under siege and a nation in chaos. As the embers cooled amidst the rubble, the hope of reconciliation seemed to be buried in the ashes of the Assembly, leaving behind a city yearning for a respite from the relentless spectre of war.

After three days, the Fédérés surrendered. Of the 204 inside, 122 had been killed, and the rest were transferred to La Santé Prison. General de Boisdeffre, using his newfound power from the first significant victory against the rebels, urged the King to dismiss the Grand Chancellery and appoint a new, more competent one. The King obliged. Dillon was dismissed, and Henri Chevreau was appointed in his place. Chevreau was a puppet for the whims of the military, and after the Legislative Assembly bombing, all grandeur of democratic values was cast aside. A makeshift Assembly was convened at, of all places, the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, and it voted to vest powers in the King and the Grand Chancellery until the Emergency had passed, which could be extended indefinitely with only the approval of the King. It would never meet again.

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Henri Chevreau, Grand Chancellor of France, September 1892 - March 1893

Chevreau and General de Boisdeffre coordinated Police, Gendarmerie units, and Army patrols to snuff out the Fédérés threat. Paris was put under lockdown, and door-to-door searches returned for mutineers, Fédérés, and CGT members. In the first weeks of September, the French Army imprisoned 800 suspected sympathisers in Paris alone and conducted raids across the North and Northeast. Outside these areas, they attempted to break strongholds by attempting to regain control of Fédéré-held cities but struggled. The remaining organisers in Paris (although there were many more sympathisers) dispersed, and many joined the Northern Division.

Outside of Paris, Insurrectionary France responded by ceasing free movement between towns and establishing checkpoints across its territory. Front lines were being drawn. Foreign powers, like Britain and Germany, sent flirtatious messages to the Royal Court with promises of sending weapons, providing finance, and even providing troops to secure the Kingdom in exchange for France’s adherence to the Accord Powers order. General de Boisdeffre, believing he could rid France of the rebels on his own, responded to guerrilla tactics of the rebels through covert and guerrilla warfare himself, including assassination, sabotage, arson, and ambushes of Fédérés conducted by the covert Deuxieme Bureau in royalist and rebel territory. The DB also found and murdered known financiers, supporters, and journalists associated with the rebellion nationwide.

In response to this, the Fédérés launched a daring raid on known armouries in Paris, the South and the West. Conducted successfully over the course of two nights, September 17th and 18th, the rebels burned out police stations, army barracks, and private stores across Royalist-held territory. They seized over 25,000 rifles and 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition from right under Chevreau and General de Boisdeffre’s noses. Seizing so much weaponry greatly embarrassed the government, infuriating de Boisdeffre and causing him to propose drastic action.

De Boisdeffre advocated launching a major offensive to retake rebel-controlled cities completely and raised a force of nearly 23,000 men, mostly conscripts and returnees from Spain, to fan out and place the entirety of the rebel-held areas under military occupation. Beginning on September 21st, the offensive was initially successful, but quickly, barricades and checkpoints were hastily built by both sides, and the Fédérés, Mutineers, and National Guard dug in.

Fresh with new weaponry, the Fédérés rushed to defend their gains, and after a couple of bloody days, a stalemate quickly emerged along the extent of the territories. The French Army Command backed off, leading to firmer and frozen frontlines in the conflict. Travel was possible but very dangerous, so the leadership of the rebels became more decentralised. Fédéré-held France was sealed off and would have to fight its way out. As the summer dwindled, over the next few days, the Fédérés and French Army had locked themselves in a rotating battle of exchanging small amounts of territory at high cost.

Exiled to Elba, General Boulanger was portrayed as the nation's saviour from this emerging hell. An editorial from an Actionist journal in Toulouse summed up the feelings of the people:

“As France navigates through the tumultuous waters of political discontent and social disarray, the spectre of Générallissime Boulanger looms large, encapsulating the aspirations and the indomitable spirit of a nation yearning for deliverance. The valorous son of our soil, exiled to the isle of Elba, has transcended the mortal coil to become a symbol, an epitome of resistance against the suffocating chokehold of a monarchy that gasps for relevance in a nation clamouring for change.

Boulanger's military prowess is but one facet of the diamond that is his enduring legacy. His philosophical musings, articulated eloquently in the shadows of exile, have reverberated through the heartland of France, kindling the flames of hope amidst the despairing souls. His vision of a united France, bereft of the shackles of class distinction, where every son and daughter of this revered land can bask in the glory of fraternity, equality, and liberty, resonates with the ethos of every true-blooded Frenchman and woman.

The burgeoning emergence of the ideology of our movement, under the astute mentorship of the exiled Generallisme Boulanger, promises a sanctuary from the tempest of royal excesses and exploitative capitalism. This solidarity seeks to bind the scattered shards of our nation into a coherent, indomitable force capable of reclaiming the inherently French grandeur.

The Fédérés are the custodians of a legacy that seeks to emancipate France from the fetters of degradation and spur a renaissance of French identity, culture, and military prowess. They venerate the essence of being French and seek to restore the luminescent halo of dignity that once crowned the brows of our ancestors.

The Royalists may barricade the gates of Paris, they may beckon the forces of the old world to cling onto a crumbling past, but the indomitable spirit of Action, forged in the crucible of Boulanger’s indomitable resolve, is poised to engulf the dark shadows of oppression and illuminate the path towards a future where the Tricolore will flutter majestically over a land of the liberty, equality, fraternity, and nation.”


As the dust settled over the embattled streets, the narrative of General Boulanger echoed through every alley and household, inciting a fervour of anticipation among the restless citizenry. Meanwhile, in the Royal courts, whispers of an uncertain yet resolute future carried the hopes of a Kingdom clinging to the vestiges of order. The paths laid before the nation were as divergent as the ideologies that forged them, each beckoning France towards a destiny intertwined with either the resolute echo of tradition or the fervent cries for change. As the silhouette of the General loomed over the horizon and the Royal standards fluttered amidst the autumn breeze, the impending clash of ideals was but a dawn away, promising to shape the heart and soul of a nation on the precipice of destiny.
 
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Great job. Recently I came across it, I have read only the second half so far. It just so happened that I started reading from the middle.

The events in France remind me of the Russian Revolution. In addition to the obvious parallel that the actionists-federalists are communists, one can note the spontaneous demobilization and return of soldiers to participate in the struggle within the country. The rebels' commitment to Boulanger really looks very fanatical. It seems that neither Lenin nor even Stalin could boast of this, because they had to participate in events in order to be in the spotlight, unlike Boulanger.

Some points indicate that the result of the revolution in France may be a mixture (national)Bolshevik communism and fascism. Firstly, Sorelianism is much more nationalistic than Bolshevism. Secondly, Boulanger himself is not exactly a supporter of communism or other leftist views. Therefore, it seems to me that the success of this revolution may end with such syncretism.

I wonder how events will develop in Spain. How much the moderate turn has affected, what will happen to the FRE, whether CNT will appear in the future, what will be the fate of the FAI, and how the internal policy of the Federation will develop in general after the war in peacetime.

And finally, a couple of interesting and funny quotes (one funny, the other interesting):

"Jesus was a true socialist and wanted just what the Fasci were demanding."

The principle of subsidiarity meant that competent authorities (family, unions, local government, trade confederations) would allow intervention but at the immediate level rather than by oppressive state structures.
 
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Great job. Recently I came across it, I have read only the second half so far. It just so happened that I started reading from the middle.
Many thanks! Glad you're enjoying it!

The events in France remind me of the Russian Revolution. In addition to the obvious parallel that the actionists-federalists are communists, one can note the spontaneous demobilization and return of soldiers to participate in the struggle within the country. The rebels' commitment to Boulanger really looks very fanatical. It seems that neither Lenin nor even Stalin could boast of this, because they had to participate in events in order to be in the spotlight, unlike Boulanger.
I think this is essentially accurate. The reason I chose Sorel to ally with Boulanger was indeed that his philosophy is more nationalistic. The developing Actionist philosophy, to me, combines Jacobin-style patriotic-nationalism, Marxism, Sorelian thought, and syndicalism. It is specifically centred around giving control of France and Francophone lands to the Francophones.

In the coming chapters, this expansion of French nationalist philosophy will develop more, but it will be extremely syncretic and will face a battle internally between those who consider some of the Francophones part of the wider concept of la Francophonie and those who consider all Francophones as part of the group.

To give you an idea of my research going into the coming conflict in France, I looked at the following to inform how it transpires; the Russian Revolution, the Irish Civil War, the Iranian Revolution, the careers of Józef Piłsudski and Ayatollah Khomeini, Sorelianism, Maurrasisme, the philosophy of Vichy France, and the Fall of Kabul. Maybe that’ll give you some kind of idea about how everything will turn out.

I wonder how events will develop in Spain. How much the moderate turn has affected, what will happen to the FRE, whether CNT will appear in the future, what will be the fate of the FAI, and how the internal policy of the Federation will develop in general after the war in peacetime.
This will be looked at in detail next year, as elections in Iberia are upcoming and will include Portugal for the first time. This will be a hugely consequential election and will move the dials of the philosophy of the state moving forward. The FRE-AIT will have a transformation, too, and there will be a small amount of influence from the Actionists.
And finally, a couple of interesting and funny quotes (one funny, the other interesting):
"Jesus was a true socialist and wanted just what the Fasci were demanding."
The principle of subsidiarity meant that competent authorities (family, unions, local government, trade confederations) would allow intervention but at the immediate level rather than by oppressive state structures.

I wondered who would spot that! It’s from Seton-Watson’s, Italy, from liberalism to fascism - so it’s a direct quote on the Sicicilian Fasci, but I couldn’t resist throwing it in. The second quote is interesting, and it’ll be a key feature of keeping the state together with its plurinational makeup.

Many thanks again for the notes, much appreciated!
 
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Part 5, Chapter XXXVII
V, XXXVII: The Balkan Detente

The turmoil in France triggered a wave of consternation in Vienna and St. Petersburg, the erstwhile allies of France. The mutinies, the threats to the state, and the loss of life were reported in newspapers and journals within days of their occurrence. In the opening weeks represented a shocking but distant twist in both countries, but a greater sense of worry among economic and political elites at the financial situation grew as the implications of the breakdown of France were contemplated.

France, under its pre-Civil War governance, wielded significant influence across the two Empires. Its sphere extended beyond its immediate borders, encompassing a network of treaties and mutual defense pacts with nations such as Russia and Austria, both of which viewed France as a valuable counterbalance to the rising German and British alliance. However, tensions within France and its subsequent civil war threatened to upend this delicate balance, leading to potential shifts in alliances and strategic priorities for all the major European powers. As France grappled with its internal strife, its allies and adversaries alike watched closely, calculating their next moves in a continent where the balance of power was perpetually in flux.

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Austrians commemorate the Battle of Nis in Hofburg, 1891

The internal strife caused significant dislocation in European diplomacy. Feeling that they could become diplomatically isolated after the cancellation of the Reinsurance Treaty with Germany, Austria had found an alliance of practicality with Boulanger’s France before the Civil War. This practicality extended to financial matters: French banks had underwritten the meagre industrialisation the Austrian economy undertook in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The threat of a lack of access to credit arising from the Civil War severely worried the Austrians, who feared turning to British or German banks for help. In the cooling of relations after the Balkan Affair, German banks refused an Austrian loan in 1890 despite lobbying by Vienna, furthering tensions between the countries.

In Moscow, a St Petersburg journal wondered whether the “loss of France and its potential collapse into anarchy again begs the question of whether Russia stands defiant and alone in the Concert of Nations." Tsar Alexander III, a close friend of Boulanger, was torn between aristocratic sensitivities and his personal respect for the Généralissime. Nikolay Girs, the Russian Foreign Minister, encouraged the Tsar to maintain an aloof position, favouring neither, to ensure that Russia’s interests would be met, whatever the outcome of the internal strife in what acted essentially as Russia’s sole creditor. Complicating the matter further, Boulanger was extremely popular in Russia, as he was credited with saving many during the 1891 Russian Famine through aid donations.

Similarly, Austria’s Foreign Minister, Count Gustav Kálnoky, was unsure how to proceed following the unrest in France. Two scenarios were laid out by dour diplomats and economists in Hofburg, neither particularly appealing. The first, in the event of a victory for the Kingdom of France, would be that the destruction caused by a conflict would be so great France would step back from its international financial commitments, and French banks, looking for funds, would call in their international debts. This would cause an economic shockwave that would tear through Vienna, risking social instability. The second would be a blatant threat to the social order in Europe in the form of a Fédérés-run France - with or without Boulanger's influence. Even at this stage, the no faction looked certain to control France and at this stage the conflict had not really begun.

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Austrian Foreign Minister, Count Gustav Kálnoky

Both scenarios left the Habsburgs sweating: they both presented situations where they would be with fewer allies and surrounded by states governed by the Hohenzollerns - Germany and the Balkan Realm. In private, Emperor Franz Joseph was said to be apoplectic at the idea of the encirclement of his Empire by Prussia, and believing the Kingdom of France would surely collapse, he and his advisors aimed to insulate themselves from this strife by pursuing two objectives; maintaining equidistance from both sides in the French conflict while officially recognising the monarchy, and attempting to remove themselves from isolation by breaking the encirclement.

Calculations involving the domestic situation also weighed heavily. The Kingdom of Hungary, the partner in the Habsburg realm of Austria, was vehemently opposed to any attempt to unsettle the Balkan Realm, given the large numbers of constituent peoples, especially Romanians, within its territory. The Realm represented a different threat to the Hungarian lands: mutilation by the Romanians in a land based war to unite its lands into a single nation combined with its Balkan lands and the stoking of ethnic hatred that characterised and dominated Hungarian thinking on this domestic affairs.

The unification of the Balkan territories into a personal union on its border meant that Hungarian perspectives on the state policy of favoring Ethnic Hungarians, Magyarisation, changed somewhat. Ethnic Hungarians, or Magyars, representing 54% of the population, remained stringently supportive of the policy, which sought to standardise the Hungarian language as the language of daily life. Still, it remained a controversial policy with the country's minorities. A crucial difference between Hungary and non-Hungarian lands was the importance of the Hungarian Diet in politics. In Austria, the Imperial Council was a stoic and quiet body; In Hungary, the Parliament carried significant weight - formally the Diet of Hungary crowned the Monarch, and the Hungarian nobility in particular were influential.

The governing Liberal Party, overwhelmingly supported by ethnic minorities and the Jewish minority in urban areas, made moves to integrate minorities as a whole more into society and force Magyars to recognise and support minority rights. This was no easy task. It faced opposition from Nobles, Magnates, and elements of the Army who wished to enforce a unified Magyar identity in the region. Hungarian Nationalists also opposed the Liberal Party due to its support for the Habsburg’s compromise to create to Dual Monarchy. The Liberals' support from ethnic minorities, its support for Austria and the compromise, and its policy of reversal of Magyarisation combined to give Magyars a sense that the Liberals were against them.

Its opposition, the Independence Party, was ruinously split about how to approach European affairs. A nationalist right-wing, supporting an alliance with Germany against the Austrians, and a left-wing, which began to understand the need for cooperation with minorities and potentially countries like Iberia and Britain to save the future of Hungary, began to emerge. Its division perpetuated the rule of the Liberal Party: the January 1892 Hungarian Diet election, thanks to splits between the left and right of the Independence movement, ensured another victory for Gyula Szapáry’s technocratic government.

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Gyula Szapáry, Prime Minister of Hungary

Moreover, this split was increased as the new Parliament saw increased cooperation between the Liberals and the left wing of the Independence Party to enact new laws to unify the differing ethnic groups within the Honved, the Hungarian Army, after negotiating with the Common Ministry in Vienna in September 1892. Some of the more regressive Magyarisation policies in the army were lessened in October. While the remaining right-wing of the Independence Party was angered by the reforms, it placated a large amount of the non-Magyar population. The groundswell in support of conciliation was strengthened by the growth of Internationalism in Hungary, especially from pacifists who wanted to avoid war - a growing movement among the limited Democratic and Social Democratic scenes. The anti-war and pro-peace sentiment in Hungary, as well as Austria, impacted the course of decisions made in Vienna.

Emperor Franz Joseph travelled to St. Petersburg for a state visit in November 1892 to discuss the European situation with the Russian Tsar. The Winter Palace was a spectacle in November. Its grandeur, accentuated by the dusting of snow on its rooftops, became the stage for a meeting of two titans. Within its gilded halls, beneath crystal chandeliers and surrounded by artworks of the Renaissance, Emperor Franz Joseph and Alexander III met, surrounded by the whispers of advisors and the distant clinking of glasses.

With France seemingly turning its back on Catholicism with the movement to laicise religion, Austria was left as the major Catholic power on the continent, and with Russia seeing itself as the protector of all Orthodox Christians, the two believed a continued alliance would assist the maintenance of Christian values in the face of secular threats from liberal democracy and Actionism alike.

Without the bellicose French in their sphere of orbit, the two believed that defensive and protective measures, rather than offensive measures, would be more prudent until the situation in France crystalised. The two powers’ major point of agreement, their opposition to Carol I’s Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen dynasty and control of the Balkans, had not gone away but had subsided somewhat. After the meeting, they exchanged letters on the subject, Franz Joseph wrote the following week:

“The winds of change blowing from France have not spared any corner of our continent. In these tumultuous times, it is paramount that like-minded monarchs come together, find common ground, and ensure the stability of our realms - I am exceedingly glad of your time and appreciate your wise counsel. It seems to me that a rapprochement with Sofia and Bucharest is the best answer. ”

Alexander III replied, agreeing with the Austrian Emperor:

“Your sentiments echo my own. France's unrest reverberates in the hallowed halls of our palaces and the humble abodes of our citizens. I eagerly await our next meeting. Let us stand united in the face of uncertainty.”

Concurrently, the Balkan Crown, itself suffering from the paranoia of being surrounded by hostile Great Powers, believed that a diplomatic effort to insulate itself from wider ramifications of the conflict in France would be necessary. In April 1892, as the consternation in Europe was bubbling under the surface, King Carol I believed that instability in Europe, catagorised at that time by the fluctuation in Britain after the March Massacres, would lead to lower security for his Realm, believing that the lack of French support for Austria and Russia would push them towards to renewed hostility with the Balkans. Therefore, Carol I took the initiative in May and established an informal talks with his neighbouring hostile powers. Without the knowledge of the Unified Diet or the Commission, he had negotiated an agreement between the Balkan Kingdom, Russia, and Austria-Hungary to address key grievances - and to recognise the Realm.

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King Carol I of the Balkan Realms

Russia and the Balkan Realm dictated an agreement to avoid a land war and recognized each other's borders. Austria-Hungary agreed to the division of Serbia, an de facto arrangement since the end of the Balkan War of Independence, formally between the new rump Kingdom of Serbia, ruled by the deposed, pro-Austrian Alexander of the House of Obrenović, and the Principality of Niš ruled by the heir-presumptive of the Romanian and Bulgarian crowns, Ferdinand.

The Balkan Kingdom and Montenegrins, who had signed an assistance treaty with Austria the year before bringing the Principality well within its orbit, would split influence over Iskodre Sanjack, lands occupied by Albanian Tribes, and the Berat Sanak of in the Manastire Vilayet, which de facto remained in the Ottoman crown - although the Sublime Porte would have no influence on the region.

When details of this agreement were leaked two weeks before Bastille Day 1892, the reaction in the Balkan world was incredulous. Serbia was incensed that it had been partitioned by of all countries the Balkan Realm, and diplomats in Berlin and London were concerned they hadn’t been consulted. The results of the treaty were threefold: the Balkan Realm was recognized by all the major powers with the exception of France, whom was at war and did not take part in the negotiations, and the Ottomans, whose influence on Europe was considered null. The belief in the Sublime Porte, held since their loss in the Russo-Turkish War that they would regain the Balkans, was firmly put to bed, and this accelerated their decline.

The revelation of the secret treaty sent shockwaves throughout the Balkan Realm and beyond, making headlines in major newspapers worldwide. In the heart of the controversy, Bulgaria's Edinstvo bemoaned the betrayal of Pan-Balkanism, echoing the sentiment of many locals who felt their dreams and aspirations had been traded away by monarchs. The editorial, posted along with the leaked details of the agreement, said:

"The ambitions of the crowned heads once again overshadow the dreams and aspirations of the Balkan people. It is a bitter pill to swallow, seeing territories we hold dear bartered away in darkened chambers."

This sentiment was mirrored internationally, with The New York Times highlighting the monarchs' willingness to manipulate geopolitical boundaries, describing it as a "hidden game of chess" now exposed.

Across the Channel, the Sunday Republic from the Union of Britain sharply criticized the "duplicity of the European elite," contrasting their own nation's democratic values with the apparent readiness of Balkan monarchies to treat territories as commodities. Annie Besant responded to the diplomatic news:

"The unveiled secret pact is a testament to the duplicitous dealings of the European elite. While the Union of Britain remains no harbinger of the values of the people, monarchies like the parties to the agreement are shown to be willing to trade territories and allegiances like mere commodities."

Meanwhile, France's Action Francaise viewed the unfolding drama in the Balkans through the prism of their own national rejuvenation, urging France to be vigilant. It said:

"While France rises like a phoenix from its own ashes, the Balkans present a tapestry of intrigue and double-dealing. It remains to be seen how this revelation affects the delicate balance of power in our continent. France must watch and act wisely."

The worldwide consensus was clear: the leaked agreement had opened a Pandora's box of diplomatic machinations that could reshape Europe's political landscape.

While Carol’s influence on Romanian politics was assured, his political control over the much more revolutionary, free-minded, and nationalistic Bulgarians was looser. While being allocated the Romanian Crown, he was gifted the Bulgarian state by the people themselves through an uprising, so the relationship was tenser. Anti-Russian sentiment, stemming from the occupation after the Russo-Turkish War, continued to fester among the Bulgarians (although after the publication of a report accusing Russia of planting spies in Romania, the feeling was commonplace across Carol’s realm). Pan-Slavic and Pan-Balkan sentiment was rising, and the decision to divide Serbia was considered a betrayal of the Pan-Balkan dreams of the realm in its infancy.

In Russia, the decision was even more controversial. Among the populous, the decision to give much of the Balkans away to German ruling families was akin to treason. From the iconic steps of the Winter Palace, the voice of the people was clear. Mass protests erupted, with thousands waving Serbian flags, chanting slogans like "For our Slavic kin!" and "Down with German aggression!" The mood was one of betrayal, with many seeing the occupation as a direct challenge to Russia's historical role as the protector of the Slavs.

Russia’s position, defending its interests but abandoning its historical claims to Slavic land, furthered discontentment among a population already growing after the Russian Famine. In a particularly telling editorial in The Russian Bulletin, the sentiment was echoed: "The Austrians and Prussians move freely in Slavic lands, while Great Russia stands by and watches? The heart of every Russian bleeds at this sight. The bonds of faith, culture, and blood tie us to our Slavic brothers in the Balkans. How can we let an outsider occupy their land? Would the great General Boulanger allow anything of the sort for his French people?"

Bulgarian journalists criticised the hitherto untouchable Balkan monarch, and public anti-Austrian and anti-Russian sentiment rose exponentially. Still, Carol reserved his right to impose his will on the realm as monarch of the union and believed in foreign policy matters; he was not required to justify his actions. He would have to justify his behaviour to the rest of the Accord Powers and would choose to do so through the Foreign Commission, led by Stefan Stambolov. Carol proclaimed the annexation of his Serb lands formally into the Balkan Realm a day before Bastille Day, and a Romanian-Bulgarian joint force moved into the area around Elbasan, Berat, Fier, Vlore, and Gjirokaster.

Carol I paced his chambers, overwhelmed by the weight of decisions that lay on his shoulders. The tapestries from his Romanian homeland provided little comfort as he grappled with the prospect of dividing lands and navigating the intricate tapestry of European diplomacy. There was a fire in him, a vision he harbored for the Balkans — but with each step, he felt the crushing weight of compromise. The sentiment across his Realm, fiery and full of zeal, constantly contrasted with his more pragmatic approach, making each decision a delicate dance between ideals and reality.
 

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Part 5, Chapter XXXVIII

V, XXXVIII: The Sassnitz Conference

Carol’s treaty with the Austrians and Russians caused consternation among the cabinets of Europe, further adding to the angst felt in capitals across the continent. Balkan Premier Stambolov was sent to Sassnitz to meet with Senator Cecil, Prime Minister Chamberlain, and German Chancellor Von Caprivi and discuss the situation, and a meeting was called between the core of Britain, Germany, and Italy's allies on the continent - Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Iberia, Germany, Italy, and the Balkan Realm.

Recognising a diplomatic effort was required, Carol I travelled concurrently to Potsdam to meet with the Kaiser for a thorough dressing down by Wilhelm. But there were the to attend to - most notably the turmoil in France, turning the event into a wider meeting of leading allies in Europe. Discussions on their collective response, the red lines for intervention, and the broader approach to the two excluded powers, Austria and Russia, were also on the table and all the more pressing, given events in Bucharest.

The conference of Foreign Ministers, Heads of State, and diplomats saw representation from the Democratic Federation of Iberia (FDI) for the first time. Concerned about the threat to its borders and fresh from ridding its territory of invading forces, the FDI could finally sit at the table. Manuel Zorilla headed the diplomatic delegation at the German resort appointed by members of Congress to represent the Federation, now encapsulating all of the Iberian peninsular.

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Isle of Rugen, where most of the diplomats and government officials stayed during deliberations.

Over the course of their stay in Sassnitz, the collective powers discussed three ongoing situations on the continent, with the aim of furthering cooperation among them while protecting each individual nation's interests and prestige. These issues were the situation in the Balkan Peninsular, its effect on the ongoing decline of the Ottoman Empire, and its response to the unrest in France.

Part I - The Balkan Question​

As the delegates met for a plenary session on September 28th, news was emerging from the Balkans on an almost daily basis. The morning of the first meeting between the Germans, British, Greeks, and Balkan Realm was punctuated by a messenger announcing that Montenegro annexed its gains from the Ottoman Empire into its Kingdom, a highly controversial move given the powers were discussing the issue. Russia and Vienna announced later that day that it supported the claim.

As news of the annexation broke out, the corridors of power across Europe buzzed with frenetic activity. In the British Senate, Senator Arthur Balfour, Secretary for War, faced a barrage of questions, the opposition demanding clarity on Britain's stance. Balfour indicated that the opinion of the government was that the annexation was not in line with agreements signed between Austria and Britain in the past and that despite Montenegro’s control of the territory, the British saw this as an annexation by Austria, which violated treaties signed between the Great Powers in the region. Austria sent no representatives to the conference, but while in Sassnitz, the Austrian Ambassador in Berlin was summoned to give an explanation.

In Berlin, the mood was one of strategic urgency as the German Chancellor convened an emergency session with his key advisors. Amid the shadows cast by the flickering candles, maps of Europe, especially the Balkans, were spread wide, each territory marked and potential alliances considered. 'We stand at a crossroads,' the Chancellor declared, his finger pausing at the territories affected by the Montenegro annexation. 'The stability we've sought in the Balkans faces a new test, and our strategies must evolve accordingly.'

Discussions ensued on the delicate balance of power, the potential threat to German interests in the region, and the domino effect the annexation could trigger. Proposals were tabled, ranging from diplomatic outreach to strengthen ties with Greece and Montenegro to military posturing as a deterrent and even covert support for nationalist movements to create a buffer zone. Each option was debated at length, factoring in the possible reactions from other European powers, especially Russia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Chancellor, aware that any misstep could ignite the tinderbox that was the Balkans, finally drafted a multi-pronged approach. This new strategy emphasized diplomatic engagement backed by a display of military readiness, aiming to secure Germany's interests while preventing a descent into widespread conflict.

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Nikola I of Montenegro

The Principality of Montenegro, while often perceived as a satellite of Austria-Hungary, demonstrated a more nuanced diplomatic stance under Nikola I. The Prince, navigating the convoluted geopolitics of the time, had his agenda. Ensuring the security and autonomy of his realm was paramount, which he sought to achieve through territorial expansion and strategic alliances. However, the Prince was wary of the growing ambitions of neighboring powers, particularly the Balkan Realm and Austria-Hungary, whose expansionist policies threatened Montenegro's sovereignty. Understanding Montenegro's actions and the Prince's decisions requires a deep dive into this intricate interplay of regional politics, alliances, and the nation's quest for sovereignty amidst the Great Powers' rivalry.

Nikola's push for annexation was not merely opportunistic but a calculated move to fortify his nation's borders against potential aggression. He engaged in a delicate dance of diplomacy, seeking to bolster ties with Russia, traditionally a protector of Slavic nations while maintaining a cautious relationship with Austria-Hungary. Inside Montenegro, this approach was a tightrope walk, balancing the aspirations of nationalist factions advocating for greater independence and those favoring closer ties with influential neighbors for security.

When Montenegro indicated that it would reject any ultimatum put forward by the Ottomans on October 6th, Britain, Italy, the Balkan Realm, and Greece readied warships to blockade the country, but finally, the Austrians agreed to sponsor any indemnity in exchange for the formal complete withdrawal and denial of claims by the Ottomans in the Balkans. Austria, therefore, put a wedge between itself and the Ottomans, but in the end, the gamble worked.

With worries about a wider conflict to contain France abound, the Great Powers could only posture and felt insecure about an attack. The warships turned back, and the Ottomans were urged to accept the counter-ultimatum. After nearly 600 years, Ottoman claims in the Balkans were finally rescinded on October 9th - a day still celebrated across the region. The Great Powers understood this for what it was - a confirmation of the end of Ottoman influence on world politics and the green light to decimate its empire.

The breakneck speed of the diplomatic events discombobulated the delegates in Sassnitz, but once the crisis abated, the discussion turned to the undermining of Accord unity by the Balkan Realm. While Stambolov admitted he knew nothing of the discussions between Carol, Alexander, and Franz Joseph and was unaware of any illegal annexations, he reiterated the country's general commitment to its allies. He argued that the agreement was defensive and didn’t affect its general foreign policy. He said, “We are preventing the destruction of the personal union of Balkan people we fought so hard for by securing our interests and deescalating tensions between once hostile neighbouring powers.”

In a strategic move that underscores the fragile balance of power in the region, the Balkan Realm entered into intricate negotiations with Greece. The crux of the deal involved an exchange of territories, most notably Salonika, for specific areas under Balkan control. This territorial re-alignment was meticulously crafted to appeal to the British, allowing them to support the arrangement without significantly offending Russia or Austria. Key to this was a series of confidential assurances from both countries, affirming that the exchange would not upset the regional status quo or threaten their strategic interests.

However, the deal ignited contention with the Ottomans, who viewed any expansion of Greek borders as a direct affront to their historical claims and regional influence. Despite their waning power, the Ottomans leveraged their lingering ties with other European powers to voice their opposition, hinting at the potential for escalated conflict should the deal proceed without addressing their concerns.

The Balkan Realm, acutely aware of the multi-faceted geopolitical implications, saw the deal as a necessary compromise. Beyond bringing Britain onside, the exchange was part of a larger, more complex diplomatic strategy. The Realm was looking to strengthen its international standing and secure future support for its political and economic initiatives. Moreover, it recognised the value of a more cooperative relationship with Greece, which could serve as a valuable ally in the face of growing uncertainties in the region.

The deal, while seemingly straightforward in terms of territorial exchange, was deeply entrenched in the undercurrents of regional politics, each party acutely conscious of the ripple effects it would send through the Balkans and beyond. Its outcome was set to not only re-draw maps but also redefine alliances and potential conflicts in this volatile part of the world.

Part II - The Eastern Question​

According to Senator Robert Cecil, British interest in the Balkans was threefold. Firstly, a friendly regime in the region ensured that trading routes were unaffected. Secondly, the Kingdom provided a buffer between its longtime ally, Greece, and the Ottomans. Finally, and related to the second point, the Balkan Kingdom allowed British interests to be less reliant on the Ottomans.

The European Accord Powers, witnessing the Ottoman Empire's 'Sick Man of Europe' status, positioned themselves as opportunistic stakeholders, ready to seize control of strategic territories. This perspective wasn't shared by the Balkans, which, having a complex history of conflict and coexistence with the Ottomans, viewed the Empire's dissolution as a delicate matter, potentially igniting regional instability.

From their alliance's inception, Britain and Germany had eyed the crumbling Ottoman territories, particularly in Arabia and North Africa, as realms where they could extend their influence. These territories were not only rich in resources but also held significant strategic value due to their geographical locations, serving as gateways between continents and seas. Italy looked longingly across the Mediterranean, believing the Med would be the beginning of an Italian Empire to rival Rome, centring on lands currently held by France, like Tunisia.

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Satirical cartoon about the Sassnitz Conference from The Sunday Republic

Germany's imperial ambitions primarily lay in the African continent, but the allure of the Ottoman domains was too significant to ignore. Understanding the strategic importance of these regions, Germany had clandestinely brokered a treaty with Chamberlain and Fawcett. This agreement, shrouded in utmost secrecy, planned for the partition of Ottoman influence zones in the event of the Empire's collapse—a scenario seen as imminent by the involved parties.

However, as the geopolitical landscape evolved with the Ottoman Empire's continued decline and other unexpected regional developments, the initial agreement no longer suited the strategic interests of the parties involved. Recognizing the need for a more nuanced approach, the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, and German Chancellor found themselves back at the negotiating table, recalibrating their objectives to better align with the new realities.

Should the French and Ottoman Empires fall, Germany was to receive a protective status over an as yet undefined area in Mesopotamia, a new Red Sea concession in Jeddah to support its Pacific trade, and the French-held port of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, completing the Accord Powers domination over the region, save Abyssinia. It would also be allowed territory in the West of Africa. The powers agreed that France could keep the Algerian coast if they could defend it, but otherwise, the emphasis was to be excluded from any arrangement.

The agreement also stipulated, at the behest of Giolotti, that the two powers wouldn’t intervene should Italy establish a colony in Tunisia and Tripolitania. Informally, Italy was also told it could claim parts of French territory surrounding the River Chad and areas currently occupied by Tuaregs in West Africa. Both measures were conditional on the future collapse of French colonial holdings in Africa.

Britain would continue to control Egypt and its territory Sudan, territories around the Suez Canal, including Vilayet of Hejaz, Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem, Beirut Vilayet, Lebanon, Demascus Vilayet, Aleppo Villayet, Adana Vilayet, and Ottoman Yemen. In addition, their existing control over Aden, confirmed in March 1891 by the declaration of a British protectorate, would ensure that while Germany and Italy would hold concessions, Britain would maintain control of the trade routes to India, the Suez, and Egypt. Evelyn Baring, head of the administration in Egypt was said to be heavily involved in these discussions.

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Evelyn Baring, Head of the Egyptian Colonial Administration

The weakening grip of the Ottoman Empire on its outlying territories presented a tantalizing opportunity for the European powers to expand their spheres of influence. However, this 'Scramble for the Ottoman Empire' was not just a matter of territorial acquisition. Each region within the Empire's control had its unique strategic, cultural, and economic importance. The European powers had to navigate a complex web of inter-ethnic rivalries, religious sensitivities, and local power structures. Moreover, the 'Eastern Question,' the debate over the Empire's fate, was a significant concern in the foreign policy of these powers, as any abrupt territorial redistribution risked upsetting the precariously balanced European status quo.

In a series of agreements throughout the latter half of 1892, unbeknownst to its other allies - the Balkan Realm and the United States - the ‘Little Concert’ of Germany, Italy, and Britain formalised these decisions through the secret treaty between the powers immediately after the 1892 General Election. Senator Cecil led these efforts and was keen to ensure the powers would not request the formal abolition of the Sultanate, nor the Caliphate, to ensure stability, only to establish spheres of suzerainty over the region.

While some territories currently held by the Ottomans were sure to be annexed - Egypt and Tripolitania were sure to be spun off from the Ottoman realms proper, as the Balkans had been - Britain and Germany supported maintaining a rump Ottoman State to pay off the state's debts over time, to maintain the powerful consortium of Western financiers, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration (OPDA), and to maintain regional stability in henceforth ungovernable lands occupied by nomadic tribes. This policy was supported by the Germans - who had grown close to Constantinople since the Russo-Turkish War as a counterweight to the Russians and were beginning to explore investments in the area - but this was contested by the Italians, even though they were promised Tripolitania.

Giolotti, recognizing Italy's burgeoning status on the international stage, advocated for a more assertive approach in the Eastern Mediterranean. He envisioned an Italian sphere of influence that extended beyond mere territorial acquisitions in North Africa. However, he proposed a gradual erosion of Ottoman power through economic and political pressure, seeking to enhance Italy's stature and control in key coastal regions and strategic islands. This approach was designed to be more palatable to his allies, intending to avoid the chaos a complete dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire might engender.

Nonetheless, Giolotti did float the idea of a Mediterranean Alliance, primarily between Italy, the Balkan Realm, and Greece, which would ensure mutual cooperation and support in their respective pursuits for influence and territory in the region and allow what he described as a ‘police force’ in former Ottoman lands, protecting strategic assets and occupying lands as Ottoman influence declined. He believed that strategic islands could serve as mutual zones for Britain and Germany, safeguarding their interests and providing naval bases critical for the security of trade routes and regional stability.

Unlike the discussions between the powers in Southeastern Europe, the plans were drawn up and confirmed entirely in secret and remained so until the end of the Turbulence in Arabia. As the 19th century neared its end, the intricate web of alliances, secret treaties, and geopolitical manoeuvrings painted a vivid tableau of a Europe on the precipice of transformation. The Ottoman Empire's declining influence, the ambitions of rising colonial powers, and the intricate dance of diplomacy in the Balkans set the stage for a new century rife with opportunity and uncertainty.

Part III - The Western Question​

In the waning glow of the days at Sassnitz, where the murmurs of diplomacy ebbed and flowed like the tides, the European landscape's complexity was drawn into sharp relief, especially concerning the tumult in France. Amidst the uncertainty shrouding the war's trajectory, the Little Concert, comprising Germany, Britain, and Italy, invited Iberia to the talks to forge a consensus steeped in cautious pragmatism.
Their collective resolve was clear: to ensure the prevention of General Boulanger's potential return to power, an event that they believed could plunge the continent into war, given his aggressive postures and his recent invasion of the FDI. The powers also sought to use the opportunity of France’s instability to foster potential alliances with powers such as Russia and Austria and bring them away from France’s orbit.

The terms, stern yet deemed essential, focused on this objective. France's re-admittance to the Concert of Nations was to hinge on its emergence as a pacified entity, a condition only to be satisfied if France itself renounced any intent of aggressive expansion, particularly under Boulanger's influence. The allies, in their pursuit of continental stability, mandated restrictions on French military presence in colonial dominions, sought reparations for Iberia — whose leaders harbored deep concerns about Boulanger's ambitions due to past skirmishes and his known expansionist desires — and required recognition of established borders, with Caprivi insisting on this including the recognition of Alsace & Lorraine within the German Empire.

As the terms of France’s reintegration were fervently debated, one of the British delegates, Senator William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, interjected with a note of caution. 'Gentlemen,' he began, his voice carrying through the hushed room, 'we find ourselves in the unenviable position of dictating terms to a proud nation. Yet, let us not be blinded by the immediacy of our concerns over General Boulanger. A France embittered by humiliation is a France ripe for unrest. Should we not seek to integrate rather than alienate, to ensure a lasting peace rather than plant the seeds of a new conflict?' His words, met with a momentary silence, echoed the unspoken fears of many in the room.

Yet, whispers of discord threaded through the alliance's fabric. The German high command's ambitions, harboring visions of uninvited intervention to preemptively dismantle Boulanger's base of support and staunch the spread of disruptive ideologies, found echoes in Rome. However, Caprivi, understanding the precarious balance, managed to quell these rumblings, emphasizing the need for a united front to effectively neutralize the Boulanger threat without provoking widespread conflict.

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Senator William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam

Throughout the negotiations, the delegates were acutely aware of the nationalist fervor simmering back home. The British delegation, wary of expanding Russian influence, faced pressure from London to secure British interests in Asia, while the Germans, under Caprivi, grappled with burgeoning nationalist sentiments that demanded a stronger stance on territorial claims. These internal dynamics played out subtly in the negotiation room, with each decision a carefully struck balance between international accord and domestic expectation.

The allies, in their cautious approach, also recognized the importance of bolstering their strategic positions. They drew lessons from recent diplomatic successes in the Balkan regions, considering how a stable Balkan Realm, free from the influence of Boulanger's potential allies, could further insulate the continent from the tremors of war.

Negotiations tread a delicate line, particularly with Britain staunch in its defense against potential Russian encroachment in Central Asia, a matter complicated by the looming shadow of Boulanger's rapport with the Russian court. This reticence momentarily bridled discussions concerning the alliance's expansion.

However, subsequent agreements, including a neutrality pact between Germany and Austria the following and the ongoing acknowledgment of the Balkan Realm's autonomy in foreign policy, signaled a shift. These developments, met with consternation in some quarters, were strategic chess moves in the grand game of keeping Boulanger and his potential coalitions at bay. While the Little Concert’s network formalised, it would remain a fluid arrangement.

It was agreed that St Petersburg and Vienna would be invited to partake in a repeat conference the following year. Discussing a venue, Chamberlain was said to have remarked to Caprivi, “Sassnitz has been a wonderful abode for the duration of your stay; however, I should like to challenge the powers of the world to find a more contented place than Brighton, an English rose.” Thus, the Brighton Conference of 1893 was arranged.

In the immediacy, the powers agreed to a committee to monitor and coordinate responses to the situation in France. Based in London, each of the immediate nations surrounding France - Britain, Belgium, Germany, Italy, and Iberia - sent diplomats to a central mission. Further offices for this mission were established in Belgium, Italy, and Iberia along their borders with France under the auspices of the Assistance and Relief Organisation for France (AROF). The AROF was ostensibly an aid organisation, but Britain and Germany hoped that a diplomatic presence along the border could act as a launch pad for an intervention if required. This fact was unknown to Italy, Iberia, and Belgium.

In the quietude of Sassnitz's gardens, away from the fervor of negotiation tables, key figures — Chamberlain, Cecil, and Stambolov — pondered their roles in this historical juncture. They grappled with the moral quandaries their decisions engendered, particularly the ethics of intervening in another nation's internal affairs, even with the specter of Boulanger's warmongering haunting their deliberations.

On the final day before the talks were brought to a close. Chamberlain, Cecil, Zorrilla, and Stambolov convened away from prying eyes in the tranquillity of a secluded garden. The air was thick with the scent of roses, a stark contrast to the day's tensions. Chamberlain, initiating the conversation, was said to have said, "Gentlemen, we stand at the crossroads of history. Our actions will either stave off the drumbeats of war or, God forbid, hasten their cadence. Are we the arbiters of peace or the unwitting progenitors of further strife?"

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Stefan Stambolov, Prime Minister of the Balkan Realm

Cecil, reflecting on Chamberlain’s query, responded, "Our duty, first and foremost, is to our countries and the preservation of our people’s security and stability between the powers. It's a burdensome task, navigating these troubled waters where a single misstep could spell disaster. Yet, we must ponder, at what cost does this preservation come?"

Stambolov added, "A Europe teetering on the brink forces us into this grand game of diplomacy. But let us not be blind to the precarious edifice we construct. It stands, a bulwark against chaos, yet vulnerable to the merest breath of discontent."

The men fell silent, contemplative, as the first stars appeared, each lost in the gravity of their decisions, the fragility of peace a shared burden on their shoulders.

On the final day of the conference, the atmosphere was palpably different. The tensions and rapid developments of the previous days had given way to a cautious optimism. The delegates understood that they had navigated a delicate geopolitical landscape and, despite the complexity and potential for conflict, had managed to secure agreements that would shape the future of Europe and its colonial interests.

The conference room, filled with an array of diplomats and statesmen, buzzed with discussions, last-minute clarifications, and the scratching of pens on paper as final documents were being signed. The agreements reached would not only redefine territorial boundaries but also set new political courses for the involved nations.

As the conference drew to a close, there was a general sense of accomplishment. The Balkan Realm, with its newfound recognition as an independent power, had solidified its position on the European stage. The arrangements regarding the Ottoman Empire delineated new spheres of influence, marking the end of an era and the beginning of new colonial ambitions. The decisions on France offered a pathway to stability, albeit at a high cost to the French nation. And, underlying it all, the intricate network of alliances and treaties had been both tested and strengthened.

However, amidst the handshakes and congenial farewells, there was an unspoken understanding that the agreements were as fragile as they were historic. The balance of power had been maintained, but it was a delicate balance, contingent on the mutual respect of physical and diplomatic boundaries and the restraint of imperial ambitions.

The outcomes of the conference would soon be communicated to the broader international community, setting the stage for reactions that could range from celebration to indignation. The delegates recognized that the true impact of their decisions would only unfold with time and would depend greatly on the adherence to and respect for the agreements reached during those intense days in Sassnitz.
 
Part 5, Chapter XXXIX
V, XXXIX: "The Humble Home of a Soldier"

While France stumbled into a conflict between two competing visions for the country, Boulanger, the leader of one vision of France, was held up outside of the country. His exile fostered his ideology, emerging from the philosophical stew from intellectuals like Sorel, Maurras and the emerging presence of Keufer. Boulanger’s return became the clarion call for a collective French identity that transcended class distinctions and sought to return power to the common French citizen.

Boulanger was in exile, but in Elba - he was actually held on Italian soil. The Italian Government was hostile to him, so it allowed the Kingdom of France to hold him on the island outside of France in exchange for payment for his upkeep and the garrison required to keep him. Competent as ever, the Royalist Government in Paris didn’t pay the jailers, so his exile was enforced - the Italians did not want a dangerous popular leader returning to France on their watch - but it was a comfortable arrest. He was held at Forte Stella and told the garrison that he was delighted to return to “the humble home of a soldier.”

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Elba, the site of Boulanger's exile

His captivity was far from oppressive. He had rooms, a balcony, and even access to fine dining, paid for by Actionists in France and leading members of the emerging Fasci movement. He spent much of his time reading; George, Sorel, and Marx were on his early list, and his entourage was impressed with his knowledge of it by the time he was a few weeks into his stay. The Généralissme read histories of Napoleon, Bolivar, and a history of Islam and had all the most prominent journals delivered to him. He witnessed, as all over France, that Action was the byword for all things new, with new philosophical journals being shared freely, creating a dominant strain of ideology among the anti-Royalists. In rebel-controlled cities, “Action” and “Speed” were the desired outcomes of government, and many enthusiastic supporters from all classes hurried to reorganize the country.

The budding Actionist movement included CGT Chief Keufer’s organisational and scientific Action Gazette, arguing the structuring of society by trade and sector rather than nationality, ensuring representation for all workers and soldiers of France, controlling its economy and power. Another popular journal, Sorel’s Notices from Assézat, was printed in his offices in a 16th-century house in Toulouse abandoned by its aristocratic owners. From the opulent surroundings, Sorel further espoused his Marxist ideals and further hypothesise the traditional strains of French socialism with the unique situation and opportunity of Boulanger. Maurras’s original Action Française newspaper continued to further the French nationalist line.

On a breezy evening, Boulanger stood on the balcony of Forte Stella, overlooking the sea. One of the Italian guards, Giovanni Esposito, approached him. Understanding the gravity of this interaction, the Guard wrote to his wife back home:

“This evening, I had one of my usual patrols around Forte Stella, and I found myself drawn to General Boulanger's balcony. There's something about him - an aura, perhaps - that is captivating. Though our conversation was brief, it was illuminating. He spoke of his homeland with a passion that's hard to describe.

What struck me the most was his vision for a united France, one where no one would be defined by birth or class. I've always been a simple soldier, never thought much about politics, but in his words, I sensed a genuine belief in a better world. I couldn't help but wonder: what if he truly is the key to change? How different would our world look under his leadership? But for now, he's here, under our watch, a bird in a golden cage.”


All these journals, papers, and books furthered his knowledge, and after a few weeks of exile, he began to write extensively on the situation in France. He began to sympathise with the Keufer-Sorel analysis of the economy and thought himself a solution: a man steeped in the tricolour and capable of crushing military victory but able to hand power over to the people as if he was Cincinnatus. In the corners of cafés and in hushed discussions among the rebels, whispers grew. 'What if Boulanger were back in France?' some pondered. 'Imagine the tide turning with the Généralissime leading from the front!' The mere idea brought a spark to many an eye, even though it seemed an impossible dream.

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Auguste Keufer, Actionist Leader

In Elba, Boulanger insisted he will return to his prison guards, including Esposito, with whom he grew close over his internment - he was born to return. He cultivated his following with many letters printed in newspapers around the world and reprinted in France and interviews.

The core of Boulanger's emerging belief was vague nationalism, with policies aimed at nationalization of industries, distribution of lands to the peasantry, and an erasure of the division between Frenchmen. Boulanger surmised his beliefs when he wrote in “An Open Letter to the French People,” saying, “There is only one class of Frenchman.”

By September 1892, the tides of revolution were visible across the French landscape. Insurrectionary Communes began to gain traction, particularly in the South, West, and North of France. Major cities like Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, and Lille witnessed the birth of ad-hoc 'Communal Committees' directed and organised by the Actionists and Federations of Trade Unions controlled by the pro-Boulanger workers who governed affairs. The seeds of revolt germinated through the fabric of society as rebellion resonated with the beleaguered masses, tired of ineffective and nonresponsive governance.

In Paris, the Royalist Government recruited new police heavily (drawing upon demobilised troops from the Franco-Spanish War) and began to pursue the mutineers more vigourously. The cohort of Police recruited between August and October 1892 hailed from the Western Front of the War in Portugal. These soldiers remained loyal throughout the mutiny and were only decommissioned when the French were pushed out of the peninsular. They were vehemently anti-mutiny, believing that the loss of the Northern Front was the reason the war was lost. In ordering them to desert their posts, Boulanger was a traitor in most eyes.

These recruits instigated a more aggressive approach to the rebels than even the French Government: reports of Police executing rebel mutineers and keeping a body part (usually a tooth or a scalp) were common. The Police were also at the forefront of the fighting, and were able to hold defensive positions alongside the Army with great success.

Progress through the Royalist defenses, therefore, was slow. An enthusiastic force, the mutineers were tired and ran out of momentum by the final days of September. Rebels, National Guard, and armed workers lacked the weaponry and organisation of the mutineers to engage the Police and Gendarmerie effectively. An attempt to take Cahors and Mende on the Southern Front and Béthune in the North was frustrated on September 26th, 1892. Both offensive movements relied on the National Guard and volunteers, both of whom were insufficient to overturn well-defended Royalist positions. A Fédéré involved in the attack on Cahors wrote in his diary after the battle:

“The cobblestones of Cahors are wet with rain, and perhaps the tears of rebels who have lost much. Today was a day of hardship. We made an attempt to push against the Royalist defenses on the opposite bank of the Lot River. Our spirits were high, and our cause felt just, but reality was cruel. We lacked the weapons, the organization, and all the basic necessities of warfare. How wasteful. Many good men and women fell.

I think of young Émile, a baker's son from Vauban, who joined the cause believing in a better future. He lay there, lifeless, the smell of freshly baked bread still clinging to him. It's moments like these that test our resolve. I sometimes find myself doubting, questioning if our sacrifices will ever bear fruit. But then I think of Boulanger, our beacon of hope and the dream of a united France. The path is fraught with danger, but our destination is clear.”


Communication between the Quasi-independent Insurrectionary Communes remained an issue also. An attempt to bring together the leadership of the top National Guard units on October 8th was frustrated when Police in Privas apprehended many of the delegates travelling from the Fédéré enclave around Lyon to Toulouse.

The fervent and passionate National Guard delegation attempted to convert police and the public alike as they moved, but Royalist sympathisers alerted the Police, and they were arrested and executed, decapitating the senior leadership of the National Guard in a key Fédéré outpost. Thanks to a campaign sealing off rebel-held territory, blocking roads, demolishing bridges, and cutting telegraph lines, the North and Western enclaves were cut off and left to fend for themselves.

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Sketch of the aftermath of a street battle between Royalists and Actionists in Cahors

This put the “Southern Command,” led by the triumvirate of leaders in the Southern territory; Keufer, Maurras, and Pyrenees native, instructor at École Supérieure de Guerre in Paris, and one of the few leading military men to defect to the Actionists, Colonel Ferdinand Foch, to the forefront of leadership of rebellion. Foch was reluctant to commit treason but was partial to listening to his men, who convinced him to join the rebellion, and with a company of his own recruits, he took off to fight in Lyon when the Monarchy was restored. His mantra of Pas de protocole and his rebellious streak made the 41-year-old malleable to the ideas of the revolution.

These three men chaired the joint meeting of the National Guard, the Committee of Soldiers, and the Committee of the CGT in Toulouse on October 10th. Organisations from the empire, including French Algerians and Tunisians, sent delegates to the meeting. Amid the discussions in the dimly lit room in Toulouse, the noise of the bustling streets outside masked the footsteps of an urgent messenger. Suddenly, the doors burst open, and a young boy, panting and covered in grime, staggered in. Everyone turned their gaze to him, their discussions interrupted.

"News from Paris!" he cried, holding up a crumpled piece of paper. The room fell silent as Keufer took the message, his eyes scanning its content. He paled, his eyes betraying a mix of alarm and resolve. "The Royalists are preparing a massive assault on the rebel cities. They've garnered support from the British and Germans and are amassing an army the likes of which we've never seen."

The room erupted in a cacophony of disbelief and concern. Over the noise, Jean Allemane stood up, slamming his fist on the table to draw attention. "All the more reason we need the Généralissime!" he declared. "If Boulanger leads us, even a formidable force will think twice before confronting us."

The Algerian and Tunisian delegates then set out a plan of their own to free the leader. "Our plan to free Boulanger is not just a glimmer of hope," one said, his voice steady and determined. "Now, it's a necessity." The room was thick with tension. Outside, the wind howled as if nature itself sensed the storm that was coming. The leaders exchanged decisive nods. The next move was clear: they had to rescue Boulanger, not just for the revolution, but for the very survival of their cause.
 
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